.Israel Versus Hamas. Time to Change Tactics

Last week, the media was full of stories about the Iron Dome.  A high tech weapons system that protected Israel from incoming rockets.  The Iron Dome appeared to work well, but at enormous cost.  According to the press, Israel was spending $80,000 to shoot down a homemade missile costing $500.   This violent balance of trade worked in Hamas favor.  700 Hamas artillery rockets cost the Israelis and, by extrapolation the American taxpayer, $55M on Iron Dome alone – not including the millions of foreign aid dollars spend on two weeks of air strikes and the mobilization of 30,000 ground troops.

I was also fascinated to read in The New York Times how to build a Hamas artillery rocket.  The design was so simple — a few iron pipes, two different kinds of common fertilizer and some sugar.  The detonator mechanism can be seen in Scene 15 of the “The African Queen” with Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart — two round pieces of wood, four nails, four springs and four bullets.   When the Hamas device hits the ground – or the African Queens’ torpedo collides with the German warship in that African lake – the nails piece and explode the bullets which, in turn, detonate the chemical explosive in the larger iron cavity.    Again Hollywood anticipates reality (1951) and provides a blueprint for terrorists (Hamas) or freedom fighters (the fictional lovers, Hepburn and Bogart) to make homemade weapons to fight imperial powers.

All last week I pondered Israel’s dilemma.   America isn’t going to actually fund the long-term deployment of the Iron Dome.  It is even too expensive for the gold-plated Department of Defense.  And once its operational effectiveness that been proven in this short proxy war to test a new release of its software, the system needed to be turned off.   Israel had built a really cool weapons system that was too costly to deploy against homemade artillery rockets.  Iron Dome isn’t going to help much against an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Then yesterday, while raking up the debris from Hurricane Sandy, it hit me.  Benjamin Netanyahu needed to fight homemade fire with homemade fire.    If Hamas guerillas can make and fire these rockets so should members of Yisael Beitenu and Likud.  Why should the haters in Gaza get all the fun?  What about mobilizing the pent-up pool of hatred on the Israeli side of the border?.  Mr. Netanyahu should have turned a blind-eye and let the settlers and their allies go at it with Hamas — homemade hatred versus homemade hatred.  My guess is that right-wing Hebrew settlers, most of them from Brooklyn, could build and fire 10,000 ‘Avigdor Liebman’ artillery rockets in one week at Gaza, if given a wink and a nod, and access to chemical fertilizers – they already have iron pipes, bullets, springs and nails.   10,000 missiles would have only cost $5M, a drop in the proverbial bucket, and the conflict would have ended very quickly in a clear Israeli victory.