Arab News (Editorial)
January 8, 2010 - 1:00am§ion=0&article=130842&d=8&m=1&y=2010

Israel says it is about to initiate a major “strategic” shift in its battle with the Palestinians. It has conducted a successful test of a short-range rocket interceptor that will now be rolled out along its border with Gaza in the coming six months. The “Iron Dome” system will, it is said, defend against rockets fired by militant Palestinians into Israel and also against mortar rounds. At a later date, the rocket shield will be deployed along the border with Lebanon.

There was, of course, nothing “strategic” about the Hamas rocket bombardments. These primitive missiles, completely lacking guidance systems, were fired off into Israel with little idea of where they would land. That they sometimes caused civilian casualties was, according to the UN Goldstone inquiry into the three-week 2008 Gaza bombardment, a war crime, equal in principle but certainly not in effect to Israel’s ruthless destruction among the helpless, crammed in Palestinian population. The Qassam, Grad, Oghab and Fajr-3/Ra’ad rocket attacks were hardly strategic but rather a forlorn, desperate and largely ineffective tactic. That they caused even a few civilian casualties was always indefensible. Worse, they were used by the Israelis to justify ruthless and extensive butchery in response. Some 1,400 Palestinians, including 412 children were slain, against 13 Israelis.

For Israel, however, the Iron Dome system clearly represents a change of strategic balance in the same way that the Russians believe that the US missile shield affects the global balance of nuclear weaponry. Together with its existing long-range missile interceptors and its planned shield against medium-range missiles, Israel will soon apparently have cover against rocket assault from anywhere in the Middle East. Moscow fears that the proposed US missile shield will allow Washington to launch a strategic atomic strike and then defend itself against retaliation. Precisely the same analysis must be applied to Israel with its undeclared and illegal nuclear arsenal.

The long-standing bleat of Zionist propaganda about the “helpless little Israel” is on the threshold of being exploded. Israel is about to be seen as far from defenseless. Indeed, with the deployment of Iron Dome the story has changed for all the world to see. Hamas hotheads can, of course, be expected to challenge the new technology. But if the shield works, even against multiple salvoes of rocketry, the maximum range of which is just 28 miles, the only point in Hamas continuing to launch missiles will be to force the Israeli military to use up its expensive new technology.

Iron Dome, however, brings another important change, about which the Israelis have no doubt agonized. It is that if Hamas and indeed Hezbollah rocket attacks can be interdicted and therefore cease, the Israeli military has robbed itself of its standing excuse to assault the captive population within the occupied territories or try and drive again into southern Lebanon. In Gaza especially, any future ground incursion, bombardment or aerial attack will now be seen for what it really is, cold-blooded murder and oppression among a captive and oppressed population.


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