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The Military

MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures 454

Lasrick (2629253) writes In a controversial article last week, MIT physicist Ted Postol again questioned whether Israel's vaunted Iron Dome rocket defense system actually works. This week, he comes back with evidence in the form of diagrams, photos of Iron Dome intercepts and contrails, and evidence on the ground to show that Iron Dome in fact is effective only about 5% of the time. Postol believes the real reason there are so few Israeli casualties is that Hamas rockets have very small warheads (only 10 to 20 pounds), and also Israel's outstanding civil defense system, which includes a vast system of shelters and an incredibly sophisticated rocket attack warning system (delivered through smart phones, among other ways).
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MIT's Ted Postol Presents More Evidence On Iron Dome Failures

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  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:18AM (#47505357)

    TFA is very interesting & I'm smarter for having read it...

    I'm glad people are looking at this kind of thing...it is *one* way to get some unbiased information

    So, "5% effective"...

    As TFA description reads, the number of Israeli casualties is mostly due to a combination of factors, including bomb shelters and early warnings...

    I think the "Iron Dome" people would respond to TFA thusly:

    "Yes, but **the program** is effective. "Iron Dome" is our missile defense system, which is one part of our civil defense, which is an entire program of things to keep people safe...if you look at the program in its entirity it's a success"

    There's only one problem with that "whole package" sales tactic.

    You can get other countries to pointlessly waste billions of dollars trying to re-create this same kind of defense system, including the insanely expensive part that pretty much doesn't work for shit.

  • The UN (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:22AM (#47505381)

    story [thewire.com]
    20 rockets were found in a UN owned school in the Gaza strip. The UN is caliming they were not using the building and did not know the rockets were in the building. What happened to the rockets once the UN discovered they were hiding munitions for Hamas in a school? The UN did the only responsible thing possible and handed those rockets over to Hamas.

  • by Jeremy Connell ( 3699021 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:24AM (#47505385)
    A good summary can be found here:
    http://www.thereligionofpeace.... [thereligionofpeace.com]

    Neo-Nazis In Germany Compare Jews To NAZIS:
    http://shoebat.com/.../neo-naz... [shoebat.com]

    ... and yet nobody has anything to say about the "Happy Holocoust" one-eyed smiley faces getting painted on christian fences:
    http://shoebat.com/.../antichr... [shoebat.com]

    ...or the wholesale massacre of christian communities (which like the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian massacres, has been quite well-documented)
    http://shoebat.com/.../muslims... [shoebat.com]
    http://shoebat.com/2014/07/21/... [shoebat.com]

    Spain is on the list:
    http://shoebat.com/.../muslim-... [shoebat.com]

    And so is Rome:
    http://shoebat.com/.../muslims... [shoebat.com]

    Meanwhile, in the land of the free, any intellectual discussion of this topic is prohibited (by shouty neo-commies), under threat of "hate speech" legislation, or being ostracised as a 'bigot', because left-wing viewpoints are by definition 'not up for discussion'.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:25AM (#47505387)

    His perspective is that success requires in-air destruction of the warhead. That is not what the system is designed to do. No system has successfully hit warheads in the air with any frequency. Second, Postol (and Lloyd and others) assert that the falling warheads aren't large enough to do damage. But mortar shells do substantial damage and then contain, even using Postol's numbers, perhaps 1/20th the TNT. That's enough to blow big holes and kill a lot of people. Where are the holes? Where is the structural damage to buildings? Where are the casualties?

  • Doubtful (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:52AM (#47505453)

    My parents are both in Israel. I go there frequently. Since the start of the rocket attacks I have talked with them daily. I can tell you Iron Dome works. Otherwise there would be far more destruction to property. Yes there are bomb shelters. I can tell you in Tel Aviv many people don't bother to go to them when the sirens go off. My dad says more people get hurt running to the bomb shelters because they trip/fall/etc. than from bombs.

    Iron Dome is highly effective. Without it there would be not only significant casualties but also significantly more property damage. In fact my dad reported seeing an actual missile intercept over our building in Bat Yam.

    I'm sure Iron Dome has it's flaws but the fact of the matter is the system has been saving lives almost daily for years. One other thing I am not sure if Slashdot readers are familiar with: The rocket attacks aren't a thing that happen every year or so. They are in Tel Aviv. In cities like Ashdod or Ashkelon they are a daily or weekly occurrence. You don't hear about it on the news but they have been going on for years. Iron Dome is continually operating and defending against these threats.

    Despite all of this the problem remains: Rockets are being fired into a sovereign country. I don't think the US would build and use such a defensive system is say, for example, Mexico launched rockets into the US for years. I don't think there would be a Mexico after around one month. To that end the (hypothetical) US solution here is far more effective than Iron Dome. Sadly I think the only long term solution here is for Israel to use its full military might against the attackers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @01:02AM (#47505489)

    Don't tell anyone, but Iron Dome causes autism because it contains gluten! It's all part of a secret Illuminati plot, of course...

    (Seeing as I live in Rishon Le Ziyyon, and watch interceptions every single day, and hear the distinctive sound of an interception (as opposed to a rocket hitting a building) several times a day, I reckon that the esteemed Mr. Postol would do well to loosen up his foil hat a bit)

  • Re:The UN (Score:5, Informative)

    by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:04AM (#47505649)

    story [thewire.com]
    20 rockets were found in a UN owned school in the Gaza strip. The UN is caliming they were not using the building and did not know the rockets were in the building. What happened to the rockets once the UN discovered they were hiding munitions for Hamas in a school? The UN did the only responsible thing possible and handed those rockets over to Hamas.

    Interesting, lets read the link then:

    So where did the rockets go? Well, according to Israel, they went right back to Hamas. As an official told The Times of Israel:

    The rockets were passed on to the government authorities in Gaza, which is Hamas. In other words, UNRWA handed to Hamas rockets that could well be shot at Israel.”

    Ok, that sounds damning, but lets read till the end for the buried lede:

    On Monday afternoon, Chris Gunness, the spokesman for U.N.R.W.A., denied that the rockets went back to Hamas.

    UNRWA did not give the rockets to Hamas. The rockets were taken away by bomb disposal experts that were answerable to the newly formed government of national consensus, which Hamas has left."

    So the rockets went to people most likely hostile to Hamas. Now maybe the UN could have done better disposing of the bombs themselves, but a UN bomb disposal mission in Gaza sounds like something that could also go really wrong. Remember the role of the UN isn't to fight for Israel, in that case they're just trying to provide humanitarian aid.

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:12AM (#47505675)

    The root cause of this mess is that the Palestinians want their land back (after it was taken off them first in the post-WW2 UN partition plan that broke up Palestine into a Palestinian section and a Jewish section and then later further taken by the new state of Israel in various wars)

  • Picture manipulation (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:35AM (#47505899)

    First evidence from the article is shown in figures 4 and 4a
    "Figure 4 and figure 4A show the consequences of a failure in the fuse timing ... As can be seen by inspecting the photograph in figure 4, there is significant damage in the area where the rocket fell. This damage was almost certainly due to the detonation of the rocket’s small warhead."

    However, the figure is a cropped version of an image taken from Ynet article
    and the picture title is "The shrapnel that hit the Tel Aviv synagogue.".

    As clearly seen in the full picture, there is very little damage that is easily explained by a steel tube falling through the roof. The picture clearly shows that there were no explosion. This was the only direct evidence of Iron Dome failure that is provided by the article. This "evidence" is malicious manipulation of an image that is easily available online.

    The images and more facts can be found in
    Since slashdot is not very graphics friendly ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:58AM (#47505959)

    I lived in Israel during the first gulf war. We knew that none of the missiles were intercepted because they exploded on the ground. I still live in Israel today. Lots of rockets fell in Tel-Aviv and neighbouring cities. You can tell they were intercepted because there was no explosion on the ground. Also, the midrange rockets that can reach Tel-Aviv, are much larger than Postol assumes. The Fajr-5 rocket has 90 Kg of HE according to wikipedia, so if they exploded on the ground, they would make serious damage. There are pictures of cars taking a direct hit, and not even catching fire.

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:08AM (#47506421) Homepage
    Really? Let's consult Hamas' founding document and see what it says. Remember, this is where Hamas writes out why it exists in the first place. I encourage you to read the whole thing, but it's kind of a slog so I've taken a few good parts out:

    Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.

    Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.

    Leaving the circle of conflict with Israel is a major act of treason and it will bring curse on its perpetrators.

    The Slogan of the Hamas
    Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur'an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief.

    So, we can see that Hamas is just following what it was organized to do. It's not difficult to understand.

  • Re:Yes, but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @08:56AM (#47506969) Homepage

    Given how incredibly lame this missile's fuse is, you could literally defeat it by sticking a broomstick on the front end of your missile and rebalancing. That is, if the system even worked in the first place.

    I had no idea that's how they triggered the Iron Dome warheads. Just a broken, angled light field triggering a central explosive a short time later on the premise that it'll be near the warhead at that point? That's so incredibly stupid. I don't know whether this guy's data about how effective the system is or not is accurate, but I can clearly see the glaring theoretical problems with such a system.

    And this is ignoring the fact that they're using $50k missiles launched from $55 million systems to shoot down $800 rockets launched from pieces of drainage pipe. Even as poor as Palestinians are compared to Israelis, those are some pretty awful ratios. The Palestinians might as well save money and skip the warheads altogether, just shoot off as many empty rockets as they can to waste Israel's money.

  • Re: Here we go... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @09:01AM (#47507019)

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen