By Robert Rechnitz
Chairman of the Iron Dome Tribute
During the past seven days, around 1,000 rockets and mortars have been fired by Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip, striking fear and deep anxiety into millions of Israeli civilians. This is far from the first time that Israel’s enemies have attempted to spread terror from the sky. On this occasion though, the Israeli public faces a barrage of rocket fire with the confidence of an additional security net, the Iron Dome technology.
According to the IDF, this advanced anti-missile system has successfully destroyed 90 percent of its targets since last Monday night. With this achievement in mind, Rafael Industries is set to deliver a seventh Iron Dome battery to the IDF this week.
Countless lives are being saved by the Iron Dome. Each time it is deployed, the danger to life is quite literally blown out of the sky. The project to develop the Iron Dome has been a close collaboration between Israel and the United States—two countries for which there is no higher value than the sanctity of life. The initiative came to fruition after our friends in the U.S. Congress, led by the late Senator Daniel Inouye, fought with great commitment for its implementation. Years of energetic lobbying efforts went into the eventual funding of the Iron Dome. Bringing the project to completion has required a committed bipartisan effort which continues to this day. Republicans and Democrats alike continue to show that when it comes to the security of the State of Israel, the United States stands as one.
Together, the United States and Israel have developed a cutting-edge anti-missile system that preserves life on all sides of conflict. The Iron Dome has prevented casualties from mounting in Israel and enabled Israelis to continue their lives in relative safety, in defiance of terror. In doing so, it has slowed down the potential advance towards an escalating conflict. As a result, a fiercer and bloodier confrontation between Israel and Hamas is being avoided. The net result is that the lives of Palestinians in Gaza are also being spared. The Iron Dome is a weapon that both saves lives and reduces conflict. While Hamas invests in weapons designed to maximize civilian casualties, Israel and the United States have developed a weapon that minimizes suffering as much as possible.
There are numerous individuals in the United States who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to help make this a reality, securing hundreds of millions of dollars to develop the Iron Dome. With G-d’s help, U.S. Congress will provide further funding this year in addition to the aid package for Israel’s defense. In recognition of these efforts, in February 2013 we were privileged to host a tribute in the Kennedy Caucus Room of the Russell Senate office building in order to give thanks to the many members of Congress for their steadfast support of the Iron Dome project. It is an initiative that also has the full backing of the Obama administration.
Thanks to the success of this humane, defensive weapon, Israeli casualties have been mercifully negligible during the current unrest. Yet, the political ramifications of the Iron Dome’s outstanding performance also have a somewhat adverse impact on Israel. The virtual absence of Israeli casualties is all-too-often simplistically compared with the regrettable deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, the false equation cited as ‘evidence’ of Israeli culpability. Yet in reality, Hamas is using people as human shields, deliberately placing their weapons in heavily populated areas, schools, and hospitals. In doing so, Hamas looks to exploit Israel’s commitment to accurately targeting military interests during its 1,500 air strikes so far, an effort which has limited the civilian death toll. Hamas encourages the deaths of its own civilians in the hope that a critical mass will be killed to spark another popular Palestinian uprising.
Yet, the Iron Dome is proof that through innovative technology and shared values, it is possible to develop missiles that are a very real weapon in preserving life. v