How Iron Dome is also saving Arab lives

An Iron Dome air-defense battery set near the southern Israeli city of Ashdod fires an intercepting missile on July 14, 2014. Photo by David Buimovitch/Flash90.

by Jonathan Feldstein

I have been hosting a variety of briefings and doing media interviews this week, putting into perspective many of the complicated, frustrating and scary things that Israel is undergoing and enduring.

Today I read a vile comment that Israel’s goal is “dead Palestinians and bombed out buildings.” There are abundant ways that this malice is not the case.  If that were the case, rather than only 69 casualties (according to the terrorists in Gaza who typically like to inflate their suffering), there would be 6900, or 69,000 deaths.  Israel has the fire power, but Israel tactically is careful to warn and evacuate civilians from areas in which terrorists are hiding, even if that means that terrorists get away.  Israel is not a country celebrating death, on their side or ours.

There’s another point to highlight this: the Iron Dome. This system is just 10 years old.  It tracks rockets and missiles from the moment of being fired, and in split seconds, calculates the trajectory of where they will land, whether in an open area or a populated town or city. Then, for those heading to where people might be, it launches a counter measure to blow the terrorists’ rockets and missiles heading to do the most harm right out of the air.  All in seconds, with no time to waste.

The Iron Dome has a tremendous rate of success.  If it weren’t so scary and dangerous, it would just always be a stunning show to watch them in action.  It is literally awesome.  I remind people that there are brilliant minds and entire careers behind the technological capability here that cannot be understated.  However, no less understated is that each countermeasure by the Iron Dome is like the Hand of God reaching down to do what He’s always promised to do, protect Israel and the Jewish people.

Sometimes the Iron Dome misses. Sometimes in the history of the Jewish people, it’s not always felt like God has our back, maybe even that He’s been on vacation.  Yes, we’ve lived through tremendous suffering.  For the families of the Israelis killed this week, the success of the Iron Dome is of little comfort. They may, rightly, feel that God was looking the other way.  I cannot offer words to their loss other than shared grief and comfort.

But it is miraculous all the same.  In three days, the terrorists are averaging several hundred rockets and missiles a day. Over 1500 total, maybe a lot more as of when you read this.  If it were “only” 500 a day, that’s 20 per hour.  But most of the time they come in barrages of dozens at a time.  Right now, as I write, another 19.

More than a miraculous feat of technology and determination, let’s not forget for a moment how many hundreds, or possibly thousands, of Israeli lives the Iron Dome has saved in the current escalation alone, and thousands if not tens of thousands in the decade since the Iron Dome became operational. As demonstrated this week, with air raid sirens as far north as Nazareth, Israel’s largest predominantly Arab city, and with at least two of the casualties — a father and a daughter — being Israeli Arabs, the Iron Dome’s protection is not limited to Jewish citizens. In Judaism there’s a tradition to say a special blessing, thanking God for rescuing us from a dangerous or life-threatening situation.  Countless Israelis — Jews and Arabs — don’t even know that at times like this, we should all be praising God, personally and collectively, for that protection.

This week, there have been no shortage of critics of Israel, faulting Israel for protecting its citizens, but bemoaning that the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza do not have an Iron Dome.  One of the most vile of these is Ilhan Omar whose condemnation of Israel this week, again, underscored that.

Of course, the Gazans don’t have an Iron Dome.  Rather than investing in protecting themselves, they have invested in deep rooted terrorist infrastructure that is meant to harm Israelis rather than protect themselves.  For protection, they use their civilians as human shields, a double war crime. The Palestinian Authority’s kleptocracy of receiving billions in foreign aid only to abscond with it and enrich their leaders in another example. Of course, if they didn’t invest in the rockets and missiles, their terror tunnels, or line their own pockets with foreign aid, much less use these as offensive weapons against Israel, they would have no reason for an Iron Dome.  But that’s another story.

However, there’s one other way that the Iron Dome saves lives that cannot be overstated and certainly is not stated enough.  More than any other Arab initiative, ever, Israel’s Iron Dome protects Palestinian Arabs’ lives. If we didn’t have the Iron Dome, and the terrorists’ rockets hit their intended targets freely — schools, apartment buildings, community centers, etc. — Israel would probably be left with no alternative than to strike back at the terrorists in a way that would be punishing, and inevitably leave a trail of civilian casualties, not one that can be counted in the dozens, but in the thousands. It’s because the Iron Dome protects Israelis from the terrorists that the Palestinian Arab grave diggers are not working overtime.

As to anyone who says or suggests that Israel’s goal is “dead Palestinians and bombed out buildings,” that’s just one of a number of lies that people with disdain for Israel make up without taking time to look in the mirror, or hold the Palestinian Arabs and their terrorist leaders responsible for their sorrows.  But make no mistake, they should be singing praises to Israel, the Iron Dome, and their god, because countless numbers of them are alive due to Israel placing saving life above all.

Jonathan Feldstein was born and educated in the U.S. and immigrated to Israel in 2004. He is married and the father of six. He is the founder and president of the Genesis 123 Foundation, which serves as a bridge between Jews and Christians and to help connect Christians to Israel in a meaningful way.