Israel is a very impressive hi-tech nation inventing and developing ways to defend itself against its enemies as well as many things that improve the life of Israelis and those of other nations.
The Iron Dome is well known for the way that it intercepts many of the rockets fired from Gaza by Hamas. It is a $210 million project. Israel is using the Iron Dome to protect Israelis and to save lives at cost of $80,000 per single interception, but if there is a need for using the interceptor named David’s Sling or Arrow 2 missiles, the average cost of a single interception would increase to about $2 million. Israel’s Iron Dome interceptions of Hamas rockets during the recent IDF Operation Guardian of the Walls war with Gaza cost $25 million to $30 million, the government said recently, arguing that the U.S.-backed system was well worth the money.
It seems nonsensical to me that while we are allowing Hamas’s firing of comparatively cheap rockets from Gaza, Israel and the US respond by spending great sums of money in defence against the Hamas. Hamas acts like a mouse unafraid of the larger cat (Israel) and does whatever it wants to do whenever it decides. There must be ways of removing the threat from Hamas, but that is not happening.
However, the reason for this OpEd is my concern about the incendiary balloons that Hamas is sending into Israel, damaging forests and agricultural crops and orchards.
Although Israel uses the Iron Dome missiles to intercept the rockets from Gaza, it does not seem to have the knowhow or technology to intercept mere balloons from Gaza. If it was not so serious, it would be humorous.
The crime committed by those who inflate the balloons and let the wind carry them to Israel’s forests and agricultural fields, results in much damage and loss of food and income for the Israeli farmers near the border with Gaza. These Hamas criminals deserve to be shot or at least punished somehow by the IDF.
And it does not seem like it should be that difficult to develop some kind of modern technology that can remove the balloons from the sky before they hit the land in Israel and to be able to view the person who is sending those balloons. There must be some way to detect a balloon in the air and then shoot it down before it ignites a fire.
An Iron Dome Missile is useless overkill when intercepting a balloon. In other words, it should be a lot less expensive to intercept a balloon than to intercept a rocket.
The news reports of the fires that are started by the balloons and the damage done to crops, do not emphasize the need to prevent this from happening to help those who live near the Gazan border.
At least the Naftali Bennett government responded to the criminal acts of sending balloons into Israel by having the IDF bomb buildings and Hamas military facilities. Hopefully that will be continue and perhaps be effective, but the balloons continue coming and the bombing response is quite expensive for Israel responding to low cost balloons. There has to be a better way that is not so expensive.
In an August 7th Arutz Sheva article we learned that Major General Alyan, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, reasoned with the residents of Gaza via a Facebook page.
“Are you really ready to risk your regular routine over balloons? Aren't you tired of this cycle that leads you nowhere? Are balloons worth reducing your fishing space? Are balloons worth the cessation of marketing of goods in Kerem Shalom? Are balloons worth stopping the movement of merchants at the Erez crossing? Are balloons worth preventing you from preventing civilian projects? Maintaining security and peace in the area will help improve the economy.”
I seriously doubt that the Hamas cares about what Major General Alyan wrote. The balloons will continue coming because they know the damage it causes to the Israeli woodlands, farmers and communities. And if they really loved this country as they claim, they would not burn down its foliage.
We are all sorry when a house is struck by a rocket and of course, if someone is injured or killed, but it seems to me that the hard-working farmer near the Gaza border who loses years of work and income is not considered seriously enough. At least when compared to those living in Ashdod or Tel Aviv whose voice seems to carry louder than that of the farmers.
Frank Mecklenburg is a freelance journalist