Earlier this evening on FoxNews’ Hannity show, guest host Eric Bolling interviewed one of the regular FoxNews military advisors on the situation in the Gaza Strip. During that interview, two things were discussed that bear on this post. First, the military advisor put the cost of each Tamir missile used with the Iron Dome system at $40K, not the $50K that I got from another source. Secondly, and more importantly, the advisor pointed out that Israel is, at present, letting 14 out of each 15 rockets fired by HAMAS from Gaza come to earth unimpeded, because the Iron Dome system is so good at projecting the landing spot of a rocket based on radar tracking that the Tamir missiles can be reserved only for the 1 out of 15 that will hit an important target. Therefore, if the targeting accuracy of HAMAS rocketry does not improve, defending against the portion of the 5,000 rockets that Israel is anticipating over the long term would require only about 333 Tamir missiles, not 5,000. Both of these factors combined would greatly reduce the aggregate cost of using Iron Dome over the long run.
In an ongoing effort that began on July 8th, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are busily looking for and destroying tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into Israel, a task that is apparently going to take considerably longer than expected. Last week it was reported that the IDF had found 13 tunnels. In an article on FoxNews, Middle East reporter Paul Alster now reports that the current count is 28 tunnels leading to about 60 outlets, and he elaborates in these excerpts:
IDF officials initially expected that most of the tunnels would be destroyed within days, but once on the ground learned there were more than intelligence sources knew. And on Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence source revealed that American satellite imagery had suggested that as many as 60 tunnels might have been built underneath Gaza.
The maze of tunnels and access shafts appears to weave its way throughout much of the Gaza Strip. Access points are reportedly found in homes, mosques, public buildings, and more …
The tunnels vary in length, height, and width, but some are well-constructed using concrete blocks. Some have electricity feeds and sewage channels, suggesting they are designed for terrorists to remain inside for long periods, possibly days at a time. The materials used to construct the tunnels appear most likely to have been diverted by Hamas from the building materials allowed into Gaza by Israel for civilian construction.
Israel simply cannot tolerate these mechanisms that enable HAMAS terrorists to surreptitiously cross the boundary between Israel and the Gaza Strip at will. I think that, after the current operations are concluded, the Netanyahu government should consider widening the unofficial 300-foot “no-mans” zone into a 1500-foot strip running the entire length of the boundary between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, as well as the entire length of the boundary with Israel, extending for a distance into the Mediterranean. This narrow land area, which would be roughly 40 miles in length, should have two fences separated by an exclusionary zone that would contain nothing but tunneling detection devices, such as vibration detectors and underground radar imaging.
There would be enormous resistance from the usual human rights groups, of course, as such a zone would encompass about 15% of the agricultural land in the Gaza Strip, which in its entirety, covers about 139 square miles. In my view, however, even this hardship to the Gaza Palestinians is justified in order to reduce the danger to Israel, as the one-kilometer wide post-Intifada buffer zone created by Israel in 2001 seems to be largely ineffective against tunneling.
This would do nothing to prevent HAMAS from launching rockets across the Gaza border into Israel, I know, but it would prevent the rockets from coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the first place. As to funding, the Tamir missiles that the Israeli “Iron Dome” system uses cost $50,000 each, and the Iron Dome batteries themselves each cost about $45-million. Israel now has about 15 batteries, and is contemplating, long term, having to launch as many as 5,000 Tamir missiles. Five thousand Tamir missiles at $50K each is $250-million bucks, to say nothing of the cost of the Iron Dome batteries. For that kind of money, I think the Israelis could fund quite a bit of tunnel-detection infrastructure.