Tuesday, May 03, 2011

IDF Iron Dome Anti Missile Zaps 9 Palestinian Rockets

The IDF's new "Iron Dome" anti missile defense system had its first success recently with the downing of 9 Grad-type rockets fired from Hamas controlled Gaza. Two anti-missile batteries were deployed in southern Israel; one near Beer Sheva and the other near Ashkelon. The systems are designed to work both on a visual as swell as an automatic mode that will fire a deterrent rocket upon sensing the firing of a rocket being launched toward Israel. When the intercepting rocket nears its target it explodes and "kills" the oncoming rocket before it can reach its destination.

The system's development was pushed forward following the 2006 war in Lebanon in which more than 4,000 rockets, most of then short range "Katyushas", were launched by Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon as well as Kassam and other rockets launched by Palestinians in Gaza. The program was given further momentum after the 2008/2009 Operation Cast Lead, which was the result of scores of Palestinian launched rockets into Israel, with several being longer range ones into Beer Sheva, Ashkelon, and even Ashdod.

According to Israel Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan, who visited the Iron Dome battery in Ashkelon over the weekend of April 9-10: "we have started on the right foot with some successful interceptions. But this is only the beginning, and things must be kept in perspective." Nevertheless, he said the system has made "world history."

The Iron Dome system is still in an "experimental mode" and most of the firings so far have been made manually after seeing rockets actually fired from Gaza. But the fact that a few interceptions were actually done at night with the battery's automatic system makes it an historical first.

Israeli citizens have been cautioned not to expect the system to be foolproof as numerous rocket firings could still result in some of them getting through to hit their targets. There is also the cost factor involved, with each launched iron dome interceptor costing around $50,000 in comparison with many Palestinian home made rockets costing less than $1,000. The system is also primarily designed for use against shorter range rockets; with the older Arrow anti-missile defense system being designed for use against longer range incoming missiles like Skuds and those from countries like Iran.

Israeli missile expert Ofer Shoham, a reserve IDF Brig. General, cautioned people into not being complacent into thinking that the Iron Dome system is a fool-proof one. "The system cannot protect against thousands of rockets being launched, but can only buy some deterrent time" he says. As to the cost of system, he notes:

"It is incorrect to compare the cost of the intercepting missile (NS 100,000) to the cost of the launched rocket itself (NS 1,000-2,000), rather the comparison should be with the cost of the damages it can cause to property, hopefully not to persons, and the cost of actions that we would have had to take following such a rocket attack. We have no pretension of intercepting thousands of missiles, only of gaining time, limiting the threat and in the meantime, the army is also doing other things. We must not forget that the system also contributes considerably to Israel's deterrent capability."

In any case, residents of Israel's southern communities now feel a bit safer with the Iron Dome batteries in place.





Osama bin Ladin Said Killed: But Will Israel Benefit?

Osama bin Ladin, the Saudi born Al Qaeda terrorist leader who was responsible for masterminding the 9-11 terror attacks in the USA is now said to have been killed in a secret commando raid on a villa he was living in, located in the Pakistan city of Abbottabad. The nighttime operation, carried out Sunday night, May 1, by a team of specially trained US Navy SEALS, attacked the 3 story heavily fortified mansion, located about 62 miles north of the Pakistan capital of Islamabad. During the ensuing firefight, the man believed to be bin Ladin, was killed along with several others during a brief fire fight. Bin Ladin was killed by a shot in the head; and his body was taken by the assault team for positive identification - presumably in the USA.

The special and very dangerous mission was only undertaken after US President Obama had received enough information that the man living in the suspected house was indeed bin Ladin. The government of Pakistan cooperated with the US forces by allowing them to use a Pakistani air force base to launch the secret operation.

Bin Ladin, who was born on July 30, 1957 in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, was the son of a wealthy Saudi businessman. After inheriting a large sum of money following his father's death, bin Ladin began to adopt a very strict Islamic way of life that eventually resulted in his creating the terrorist organization known as Al Qaeda, or "The Base" in Arabic. Bin Ladin began his self proclaimed war against the "enemies of Islam" by directing a number of terrorist operations against American and other foreign interests in various parts of the world. These operations included the bombing of an American military housing compound in Saudi Arabia (1996), the bombing of the American embassies in Nairobi Kenya and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania (1998); the suicide boat ramming of the UUS Cole in Aden Yemem in 2000. Finally, the September 11, 2001 mega terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon intelligence center in Washington DC resulting in the USA declaring war on bin Ladin and his organization. In the 9-11 attacks alone, nearly 3,000 were killed, including the passengers on 4 commercial airliners – 3 of which were literally crashed into the terrorists' targets.

Al Qaeda and bin Ladin, together with his associates (including Al Qaeda No. 2 man Ayman al Zewahiri) have been the subjects of a massive man hunt that has been ongoing for nearly ten years. Other top Al Qaeda leaders, including bombing specialist Abi Musab al Zaeqawi have been either killed or captured during this period.

Upon receiving the news of bin Ladin's death, millions of Americans began celebrating in cities all over America, especially in both New York City and Washington DC, the scenes of the 9-11 attacks. US President Barak Obama, in a special televised address to the American people, said the following:

"Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan," Obama said. "A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body."

President Obama, as well as international experts has cautioned everyone that the killing of Osama bin Ladin does not mean to end of Al Qaeda's ability to carry out more terror attacks. "We must be vigilant and not let this success prevent our willingness to protect ourselves from such attacks in the future", Obama said. The President also told the American People – and the world that "this attack is not against Islam as bin Ladin and his men were not representatives of Muslims or Islam."

While bin Ladin's death may help considerably in the fight against terror, Al Qaeda and other fanatical organizations are still a threat, especially to Israelis both at home and abroad. Israel has to contend with a number of radical groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah (backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran), and others. Now that the rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a government together, the potential threat to Israel has become even more possible. And while Israeli leaders can congratulate the United States for ridding the world of Osam bin Ladin, we living in Israel still have plenty of threats to be vigilant about.

JPost.com - Headlines