Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket interceptor will allow it to ease off the tinderbox Gaza and Lebanon frontiers, but war risks persist and may even be boosted as Hamas and Hezbollah guerrillas test alternative tactics.
The system’s success in shooting down a Palestinian Katyusha salvo last week has been tempered by caveats. Officials want to curb any false hopes of security among Israelis who spent the conflicts of 2006 and 2009 holed up in air-raid shelters.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed “Iron Dome” as a “breakthrough,” but made clear it is not perfect and that Israel continues to rely on overwhelming military might.
Fenced off in Gaza, Hamas and other Palestinian factions have long looked to rocket and mortar fire as their main weapon against Israel. So has Hezbollah, lacking the armor or aircraft with which to repel Israeli sweeps into southern Lebanon.
Launched into cities and border villages, these rockets have the potential to inflict civilian casualties that, in the past, have triggered major Israeli military mobilizations.
But funding remains hazy given holdups in a $205 million grant from the U.S. Congress and Israel’s wider defense spending needs in the face of the political upheaval buffeting the Arab world.