Over a hundred missiles fired from Gaza in answer to Israeli brutal assassination
During this weekend, Gaza retaliated for the assassination on Friday, March 9, 2012, of Zuhir al-Qaisi, the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees, the organization that captured former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit (see Scary Sicarii: Israeli Extrajudicial Executions). Over a hundred missiles were fired from Gaza in answer to the Israeli brutal assassination; one of them hit four Thai foreign workers in Ein HaBesor. The most striking characteristic of the event is the thinly disguised manipulation on the Iron Dome missile shield defense interception statistics. The IDF keeps making efforts to upgrade them, to the extent that part of the information presented in this article was collected from Thai media reporting on the event.
Sunday, Israeli Government Meeting
The Israeli weekend is short. It lasts from Friday noon to Saturday evening. Sunday is a working day, and is when Israeli government weekly meetings take place. Today, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was the star of this event. He reported on the massive missile firing from Gaza following Friday’s assassination. Since the event began until the meeting, at least 124 missiles were fired, over forty of them were identified as Grads (see Grad Missile Hits Beer Sheva) and roughly 70 as Qassams. This was the core of Barak’s report on the attack.
Then, he gave some details on the Iron Dome missile shield performance. Three batteries were deployed during the event, in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva. He claimed the system successfully hit 30 of the incoming missiles. Let’s keep this number in mind, 30 interceptions out of 124 missiles, i.e. 24% success. Barak didn’t mention this very low number. By the way, this is how the statistics should be calculated, including the whole population of the event. This has an intrinsic logic in this system as well. By definition, this is an asymmetric warfare, with missiles much cheaper than anti-missiles. Consequently, the inability to deploy anti-missiles on every potential target must be accounted for; taking in the whole population of the event solves this. Of course, this contradicts the interest of Israel’s Ministry of Defense, which prefers calculations based on partial populations.
Then, Barak reported on three wounded persons on the Israeli side, one of them a Thai foreign worker. The IDF retaliated with almost 30 air strikes in which over 20 Palestinians were hit. A 14-year old Palestinian child was killed. Barak ended his report assuring that the event is not over and that violence will continue “for a few more days.”
Meanwhile, in the real world…
While Barak was delivering his report, an unidentified rocket hit a school in Beer Sheva. A second one was intercepted. Sunday is a school day in Israel, but students were at home due to the ongoing attack, thus nobody was hurt. As explained in Grad Missile Hits Beer Sheva, such events are very important, because this city is at the far end of the Grad missiles’ range (see map). This means the missiles fly the roughly 40km distance in about a minute. Israel claimed repeatedly that the Iron Dome was designed to protect Sderot. Missiles can reach this town from Gaza within fifteen seconds. Yet, the Iron Dome failed at the far end of the range, where it had four times more time to prepare.
All this didn’t confuse Hebrew journalists, who kept reporting on the developing events, though in an awkward fashion. The nationalistic “Arutz 7” (Channel 7) is known for the accuracy of its reports of such events. Its report on the rocket that exploded in the school already included most of the data delivered by Barak at the government meeting, proving again that Arutz 7 has awesome sources within the Ministry of Defense. However, there was one striking sentence in the report (I keep faithful to the style of the original Hebrew): “The Iron Dome system intercepted from the Sabbath entrance onward over 35 rockets that were aimed at populated settlements, with a success of over 90%.” Compare this to the 24% reported by Barak to the government. Arutz 7 didn’t provide the overall number of missiles fired, thus it was impossible to calculate the correct percentage of interceptions. Was this manipulation a service given to the Ministry of Defense in exchange for early access to the information delivered by Barak at the meeting? Is the Hebrew press manipulating the Hebrew public instead of informing it?
I spent the first two years of my exile in South East Asia, and most of this period in Thailand. Ever since, I am subscribed to email updates by The Nation, the second largest English newspaper of Thailand (its website is Nation Multimedia). When I learned that Thai workers had been hit, I checked their emails to see if this has been reported in Thailand. Not only had the item appeared in a “Breaking News” email I had received from them, but the website reported more details than the Hebrew media. There wasn’t just one Thai wounded person, but four, one of them in serious condition. They were hit while working in the fields of moshav Ein Habesor, next to Gaza. After Israel begun shunning Palestinian workers, it began bringing in workers from Thailand, the Philippines, Nepal, Turkey, Romania, Nigeria and Colombia (see The Cross of Bethlehem); the Zionist ethos was built upon the sweat, work and tears of non-Jewish workers. The Thai workers hit were part of this state sponsored plan. For the second time during this event, we find oddly manipulated stats.
Those reading this website for a while (see Israeli Iron Dome Threatens North Korea), know that the Iron Dome is a thinly disguised offensive system. It was designed for Singapore, and nowadays is being aggressively marketed to South Korea in exchange for Korean T-50 Golden Eagle fighters. Israel claims to have developed the Iron Dome for the sake of Sderot’s denizens, but the system’s technical characteristics make it impossible for it to intercept missiles aimed at this Zionist settlement on Gaza’s border (see map). This is so even for dumb Qassam rockets, the simplest devices aimed at Israel. The Qassam’s speed in the air is 200 meters per second. The distance from the edge of Beit Hanun to the outskirts of Sderot is 1800 meters. A rocket launched from Beit Hanun takes about nine seconds to hit Sderot. The preparations to launch the intercepting missile at their target take up to about 15 seconds (the system locates the target, determines the flight path and calculates the intercept route in that time). The Qassam will hit Sderot a number of seconds before the missile can intercept it even if launched. Other limitations exist and are also public. Yet, Israel’s Defense Minister keeps pouring money into the project.
The Iron Dome has the potential to create huge profits for its investors. Not only due to the batteries being sold, but also for the expensive ammunition, training courses, equipment maintenance, and a plethora of added services which probably would be priced as add-ons. Israel’s Ministry of Defense justifies the development of the system to the Israeli public on the ongoing rocket and missile attacks and this obviously works fine, since the Hebrew media gladly cooperates. However, it also must keep interested the final customer. In order to achieve that it must show good interception statistics.
On August 20, 2011, the Iron Dome had its first operational failure. Seven rockets were fired almost simultaneously at Beer Sheva from Gaza, one of them managed to bypass the Iron Dome defense system, and exploded in a residential area, killing Yossi Shushan. Brigadier General Doron Gavish, commander of the IAF’s Air Defense Corps, said the following day that “we said in advance that this wasn’t a hermetic system,” adding that the air defense units were learning on the fly and improving the performance of Iron Dome while operating it. In Israeli Iron Dome Threatens North Korea it was reported a 75% interception success of Iron Dome. This weekend’s events reduced this to just 24%. Simply, the IDF is rigging statistics for the sake of the Israeli public and potential customers of the system.
How is that done? The IDF has deployed the Iron Dome only in sites far enough from Gaza to provide the system a good chance of success. In such a way it manipulates the statistics in Iron Dome’s favor. There are no Iron Dome batteries defending Sderot. There are no batteries along the southern side of Gaza Strip, where the Thai workers were hit. Out of Israel’s projected nine batteries, only three are deployed. They have been deployed as far from Gaza as possible without becoming ridiculously obvious. Even so, rockets land on Beer Sheva in an almost daily basis (this website doesn’t report every hit), passing through the Iron Dome as if it were just a fancy ornament.
Yet, in a careless whisper within the government’s weekly meeting, Ehud Barak let us know the truth: the Iron Dome has less than a 25% success rate, even in a limited attack scenario of just over 100 missiles. What would happen when all 200,000 missiles Israel claims are aimed at it are launched? Then, even if an improved Iron Dome has a 100% success rate, it may turn out being a hundred percent hits against 0.1% of the fired missiles or less. Barak, you had better run for a deep, very deep shelter.