Saturday 26 July 2014

Iron Dome - Blessing or Curse?

There is almost universal recognition of the value of the Iron Dome anti-missile system amongst Israeli citizens.  Watching missiles being shot down out of the sky, which have been fired indiscriminately into the most populated parts of Israel with the purpose of causing death and destruction, is an amazingly impressive and heart-warming sight.  It is difficult not to understand the enormity of the task that Iron Dome is doing, and the thousands of lives that are being saved in the process.   The stark contrast between Israel's investment in defensive systems and Hamas's investment in promoting terror, death and destruction, is difficult to ignore.  Unfortunately, not everybody sees it for the positive force that it is.

In an ironic twist of fate, Iron Dome is also proving to have some negative implications for Israel and her safety.  The fact that Israel has invested so heavily in defending the lives of her citizens, including a substantial investment in the Iron Dome, is causing the current round of operations to look one-sided and unbalanced.  Despite Hamas having fired more than two thousand rockets towards Israel's densely-populated towns and cities in the past two weeks,  "only" three Israeli civilians have been killed as a result of this rocket fire.  This is not due to lack of trying on the part of Hamas. This is all down to Israel taking care of its citizens.  By contrast, a few hundred Palestinian civilians have been killed in the conflict.  This is despite the fact that Israel has taken every precaution to avoid civilian deaths wherever possible.  Many Israeli bombing raids have been called off due to the fact that innocent civilians have been observed in the targeted areas.  This action, perceived as a weakness on the part of Hamas, has given the Hamas leadership the incentive to turn large swathes of the civilian population of Gaza into human shields.  Inevitably, when more civilians are sent into the war zone, more civilians are killed. This serves Hamas's interests.

International opinion seems to ignore defensive and precautionary efforts on the part of Israel, and equally ignores the despicable actions taken by Hamas.  Instead, international opinion counts up the dead bodies in order to decide in which direction it will be swayed.  This has resulted in the international community accusing Israel of a "disproportionate response".  The Hamas leadership has understood this very quickly, and seems to value international opinion and sympathy more than it values the lives of its innocent civilians.  It has decided that dead bodies are good for international public relations, and are more important than preserving the lives of innocent civilians.  They have cynically used this for public relations, to very good effect.  This is a battle that Israel cannot win.  Investing in safety for Israeli civilians means that Israel is losing the moral high ground in the eyes of international community.  The Iron Dome and other defensive measures implemented, are turning the tide of international public opinion against Israel.  Instead of valuing Israel's efforts in defending her citizens, the international community is being fooled by the cynical efforts by Hamas to gain their sympathy and support.

It is horrifying that Hamas seeks sympathy via the death of its innocent civilians, through the glorification of death and using it in the most cynical way possible.  It is even more horrifying that members of the international community cannot see through this for the disgusting behaviour that it is.  Even if these sympathy-seeking tactics are successful, they will never change Israel's approach to valuing life of its own citizens and even of the citizens of its enemies.  Citizens of the State of Israel are enormously proud of Iron Dome, and the wonderful work that it has done in protecting innocent lives.  No amount of sympathy lost as a result of employing life-saving tactics and technologies will change this.

In an ironic way, the Iron Dome has probably saved more Palestinian lives than Israeli ones.  Without the benefit of the Iron Dome protecting Israel, the government and the IDF would have been forced into making much quicker decisions, and ones that are much more far-reaching.  The response to so many rockets fired into Israeli towns and cities causing death and destruction, is likely to have been a much more powerful military and air force reaction to bring the bombimg campaign to an abrupt halt.  The "collateral damage" in terms of Palestinian civilians from such a campaign would have been far greater.  

The value and importance of recognition and support of the international community can never be underestimated.  The actions taken by Hamas to gain this support and recognition have crossed all red lines.  There can be nothing to justify sacrificing the lives of innocent civilians, your own innocent civilians, in return for international sympathy.  It is for this reason that Israel will continue to develop systems to defend its citizens, and Hamas is likely not to do so.  If this comes at the cost of public support and sympathy, so be it.  Israel will never compromise on defending the lives of her citizens.  And the citizens of Israel will never give up on Israel and her defense forces.

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