Israel’s latest assault on Gaza began with a missile strike killing the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair Qaisi. His assassination was justified on the grounds that it “foiled a major terror attack,” the Jerusalem Post claimed. [My emphasis]
Yet the same report went on to say: “The IDF decided on Friday to close Route 12 – which runs along the border with Egypt – due to fears that the planned attack might still take place.” [My emphasis.]
The Post also reported:
Assessments ahead of the decision to bomb the car carrying Zuhair Qaisi predicted that around 100 rockets could be fired into Israel during each day of the round of violence expected to erupt. This was a price the government felt it was capable of paying.
Setting aside the question of whether the price of the attack is being paid by the Israeli government, the residents of Southern Israel or those in Gaza, 100 rockets a day might have been less of a price and more of a reward.
Even while ratcheting up the threat of war on Iran, the Israeli government has been cutting spending on domestic defense. It doesn’t want to spend more on Iron Dome anti-missile batteries which would be its primary defense from missiles being fired by Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon in the event that they launched attacks in response to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
During the 2006 Lebanon war, about 900 rockets hit urban areas in Northern Israel. That averaged about 27 a day.
The Post reports on the current round of rocket attacks:
The three Iron Dome batteries deployed in Ashdod, Ashkelon and Beersheba succeeded in interpreting [sic] 27 rockets fired from Gaza out of 30 that they tried to shoot down, marking a record-high interception rate of 90 percent.
So was this the point of the exercise? Assassinate a militant leader in order to trigger a significant reprisal with rocket attacks in order to then test the Iron Dome batteries in battlefield conditions?
Hamas is committed to a political track that makes them very reluctant to get dragged into another war and they have also ruled out offering military support for Iran in any war with Israel. Israel probably calculated that the risks of escalation beyond a few days of rocket attacks were fairly low.
So as for who actually pays the price for Israel’s Iron Dome test exercise, more than anyone else it ends up being the residents of Gaza — the people that Israel treats as its laboratory animals for testing its war machine.