By SAM SOKOL
TEL AVIV (JTA) — After the weekend’s fighting between Hamas and the Israeli army, some Israelis have raised questions about the strength of their country’s missile defenses.
Over the course of the weekend, Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched nearly 700 rockets from Gaza at Israel, killing four people and injuring more than 200. According to Haaretz, of the 690 rockets launched from Gaza, Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 240.
The number of unintercepted rockets and Israeli fatalities sparked inquiry about the effectiveness of Iron Dome, and whether Hamas and Islamic Jihad have found a way to thwart the system.
Hamas was quick to declare that it had achieved victory, overwhelming Israeli defenses with concentrated barrages of projectiles.
“The Qassam Brigades, thanks to God, succeeded in overcoming the so-called Iron Dome by adopting the tactic of firing dozens of missiles in one single burst,” a spokesman for Hamas’s Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades said in a social media post quoted by The Times of Israel. “The high intensity of fire and the great destructive ability of the missiles that were introduced by the Qassam [Brigades] … succeeded in causing great losses and destruction to the enemy.”
The number of Israeli civilians killed in the two-day conflict was only one fewer than during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, a struggle of nearly two months, when Palestinian factions lobbed more than 4,500 projectiles at Israeli cities.
At the time, the Israel Defense Forces said that its Iron Dome batteries had managed to knock down 90 percent of the rockets within their coverage zones — a rate of success disputed by some critics. The IDF claimed a similar level of success this time, too, telling reporters that it had achieved an 86 percent kill rate and that only 35 projectiles landed in populated areas.
However, speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Maj. Gen. Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser and retired head of the Military Intelligence’s Research Department, said Iron Dome had gaps in its coverage, especially when it came to short-range rockets landing within a few kilometers of the border.
“We don’t have enough time to intercept it,” he said.
Amidor also said that in the case of a car hit by an anti-tank missile near Kibbutz Yad Mordechai on Sunday, killing its Israeli driver, Iron Dome wouldn’t have helped.
“From the point of view of the system, this was an open area without people. We don’t intercept such rockets,” he said.
A former deputy military intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Meir Elran, said that while “Iron Dome has proven to be an effective means of saving lives, which also improves the flexibility of decision makers in Israel,” it is clear that the system as currently constituted cannot provide Israel with sufficient protection in the event of a wider conflict.
In an article published by the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv several weeks before the outbreak of hostilities, Elran warned that “the number of available batteries (some operated by reservists) cannot suffice as a response to the threat, even one characterized by sporadic fire against the Israeli depth. In a full-scale conflict the [Iron Dome] system would be required to cover primarily military installations and vital national infrastructures,” which would mean that there would be gaps in the system’s coverage of residential areas.
“During a broad and protracted conflict,” Elran wrote, there is a “danger of multiple, simultaneous events that stretch the capacity of response systems.”
The IDF has been beefing up its systems. Globes reported that the army has been working on improvements to Iron Dome intended to deal with just the kinds of barrages used over the weekend, as well as against the kinds of short-range projectiles used to target communities along the Gaza border. In mid-April, the IDF concluded an air defense exercise combining its Iron Dome and Patriot missile batteries.
Overall, the presence of Iron Dome has allowed Israel additional flexibility in choosing when it wants to escalate conflicts. The system reduces the need to send infantry troops into Gaza to stop missile fire against population centers.
Despite this weekend’s death toll, Iron Dome acquitted itself well, Times of Israel military correspondent Judah Ari Gross told JTA. The higher than usual level of civilian casualties can be attributed to a combination of bad luck, the intensity of the barrages and Hamas’ use of heavier rockets with larger payloads. Such projectiles can intensify the damage when they do get through.
“In one barrage, they fired 117 rockets toward Ashdod. One got through. Is that overwhelming the system?” he asked. “You can say, yes, it is — especially as that one killed an Israeli civilian — or no, that’s a 99.1 percent success rate.”
The missile that did get through in Ashdod killed Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, a 21-year old American citizen who was hit while running for cover. Even with a high level of interceptions, with enough metal flying, some are bound to get through, Gross said, adding that it was unclear exactly how the IDF had calculated its claimed 86 percent interception rate.
Uzi Rubin, one of the pioneers of Israel’s earliest attempts at missile defense, told JTA that based on the publicly available data, it appears that the Palestinians “tried to tax the system as much as they could, but the system as a whole held well.”
“Eighty-six percent is not much less than the 90 percent during [Operation Protective Edge], and remember this time most of the fire was concentrated on the area around Gaza, which is short range and harder to defend,” he said.
Israel doesn;t just rely on the Iron Dome to keep its citizens safe. Phone apps warn of incoming missiles, and bomb shelters and “safe rooms” are ubiquitous, if not always well-maintained. In his article Elran suggests that “existing plans for improving public and private shelters should be implemented in other parts of Israel.”
Elran also urged the Home Front Command and municipal leaders to get on the same page when it comes to closing schools and opening public shelters, “issues that continue to be disputed.”
Residents of southern Israel had differing opinions as to the effectiveness of the IDF’s missile defenses.
Raymond Reijnen, a Dutch immigrant whose house in Kibbutz Nahal Oz was hit by a rocket as he hid in its bomb shelter with his wife and children on Saturday, said Iron Dome’s effectiveness has been exaggerated.
“Everybody thinks [it’s] great, but every mortar they fired at the kibbutz landed and didn’t got intercepted,” he said. “Iron Dome is a bandage to keep the people feeling safe and protected. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great system, but its capabilities are highly overestimated.”
On the other hand, Adele Raemer, a resident of Kibbutz Nirim on the Gaza border, said she did feel safer than in previous escalations.
“We’ve only had Iron Dome for about a year,” she said. “As a resident, I do feel more protected now that we have [it].”
Asked for comment, the IDF said that it was unable to provide information on Iron Dome’s performance or how it calculates interception rates because it was short-staffed due to Tuesday evening’s Yom Hazikaron, or Memorial Day, commemorations.
Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive
By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.
But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333