A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 7, 2010 Opir Pines Resigns, More on Missile Defense and Hamas vs Egypt
Knesset Member Ophir Pines stunned the Israeli political world today, when he decided to resign from the Knesset and from the Labor Party. Pines stated that he could no longer stay in the party and remain true to his ideals. Pines had opposed the Labor party’s entry into the Netanyahu government. In a time when most politicians in Israel have the reputation for just caring about their jobs, Pines' decision, whether you agree or disagree with his politics, was a breath of fresh air. I must say that I worked with Pines years ago when we were both young, and then I thought he was just another young Israeli politician trying to find any way to get ahead. His actions in the last few years shows that sometimes first impressions can be definitively wrong.
The two main stories that I reported on yesterday continue to reverberate-- although interestingly enough, very little has been reported in the American press regarding of either matter. The implications of the successful test firing of the "Iron Dome" missile system have begun to be understood. When Iron Dome is successfully deployed, it radically changes Israel’s strategic situation visa via Hezbollah. After the last war it became clear that only a rapid insertion of ground troops could stop missile fire. It was also clear Israel had been planning based on that difficult scenario in case of war. With Iron Dome in place, the Israeli government will have the luxury of time to decide how to respond. The government has to to decide, of course, how many batteries and missiles to purchase. It really should not be a difficult decision. It is estimated that each missile costs approximately $10,000 (not including the launch battery and radar). In Israel's last war with Lebanon, Hezbollah launched 4,000 rockets at Israel (of which 25% landing in populated areas.) That means it would take approximately $10,000,000 to buy the 1,000 launchers necessary. Considering the amount of purely physical damage done by the rocket attacks, not to mention the value of human life damaged or lost, it seems an extremely good investment-- even if Israel needs to buy 5 times that amount. A much better investment than buying new gas masks for the entire country. One word on the development of the system... It was developed by the Israeli government arms company "Rafael", and completed in two years. Completing the system in such a short time frame was an accomplishment many said was impossible. Certainly in this day, when it seems to take the US 10 years to develop a new weapons system, this is a remarkable accomplishment. Israel now has the only two deployable weapons systems in the world to defend against incoming missiles: the "Chetz" for long range missiles and the "Iron Dome" for short-range missiles. Israeli is currently developing a third system for intermediate range missiles.
The Hamas action on the Egyptian border yesterday have served to put Hamas in a defensive position. There hope was that by stirring up protest they could gain sympathy on the Arab street. However the death of an Egyptian soldier has united much of the official Arab world and even some of the Egyptian street against Hamas. The Egyptians have now gone on the offensive. I even heard one of the Egyptian parliament members on BBC Arabic, attacking the Hamas and saying they have killed more Palestinians over the past few years than Israel has since 1948. When another spokesman of the Egyptian government was attacked on Al Jazeera for the wall that Egypt is building, he attacked Hamas saying Egypt was only trying to defend its sovereignty, and that the tunnels were leading to the smuggling of Heroin to Cairo. The spokesman went to say that today on the streets of Cairo there is a heroin called "Gaza heroin". The killing of Egyptian Coptics today in Southern Egypt has only strengthened the hand of Egyptian moderates against Muslim extremists.
George Mitchell was on Charlie Rose last night it is worth watching by the time you read this it may move but here is the address as of now.