Iron Dome Doesn’t Help Sderot

In Israel, like many countries with very large  arms industries, there is a close relationship between the government, the defense department and the industry, with the former often acting to promote the interests of the private arms industry.

Politically it was very important in the last few years for the Israeli government to ‘protect’ the residents of Sderot, in Israeli territory near the Gaza strip, who were being attacked by Qassam rockets fired from Gaza.

Residents of Sderot were promised a ‘missile defense shield’ that would protect them from Qassam rockets and money was awarded to Rafael Advanced Defence Systems to build one. Indeed a working system was completed in just two and a half years. However the IDF purchased only one system, at a cost of $50 million, then promptly put it into storage in the north of the country saying that it would be used to protect the frontier with Lebanon. It did not announce plans to purchase additional batteries.

Two theories have been advanced for this abrupt change of policy.

First, it has been pointed out that the Iron Dome system supplied by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems could not possibly defend Sderot from Qassam rockets fired from Gaza because the time it takes for a rocket to arrive in Sderot is far to short to allow the Iron Dome system to be activated. Iron Dome would only work where the lead times are greater, perhaps on the front with Lebanon.(It has also been pointed out that Israel could have purchased ‘off the shelf’ defence systems from the US, which used lasers and therefore had much shorter activation times, and were cheaper.

Second, it has been suggested that the plan to provide a ‘shield’ for Sderot was simply an excuse to commence a weapons development programme, with the real goal to sell the system to an offshore client, specifically Singapore. It was recently announced that Singapore would buy xx units of the system.

(Additional information from article by Lars Olberg, in Missile Monitor).

So were the citizens of Sderot betrayed by their government, who used their situation to justify a weapons development system that could not possibly benefit them?

Did Singapore believe that Israel was building a workable system for itself, when in reality the system is of little use for Israel and is more expensive than better alternatives?

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