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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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  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:09AM (#47505321) Journal

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

    I'm glad people are looking at this kind of 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"

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:20AM (#47505373)

    As opposed to perfect precision strikes on that evil Palestinian hospital? Or is this "jew hating" somehow? []

    but there are extremists on both sides, like parts of Hamas, (and similar on the other side, see the "settlers") that want to murder each other. Something tells me your are one of these extremists too.

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

    by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:39AM (#47505423) Homepage Journal

    I guess since I used to raise money for Israeli medical research and investments in Israeli industry, that would qualify me as an anti-Semite.

    But let's look at what the real anti-Semites are saying -- the Jews who actually live there: []
    Reaping what we have sown in Gaza
    Those who turned Gaza into an internment camp for 1.8 million people should not be surprised when they tunnel underneath the earth.
    By Amira Hass
    Jul. 21, 2014

    A book on Israeli military psychology should have an entire chapter devoted to this sadism, sanctimoniously disguising itself as mercy: A recorded message demanding hundreds of thousands of people leave their already targeted homes, for another place, equally dangerous, 10 kilometers away.

    In contrast to the common Israeli hasbara, Hamas isn’t forcing Gazans to remain in their homes, or to leave. It’s their decision. Where would they go? []
    What does Hamas really want?
    Read the list of conditions published in the name of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and judge honestly whether there is one unjust demand among them.
    By Gideon Levy
    Jul. 20, 2014

    we should stop for a moment and listen to Hamas; we may even be permitted to put ourselves in its shoes, perhaps even to appreciate the daring and resilience of this, our bitter enemy, under harsh conditions.
    Read the list of demands and judge honestly whether there is one unjust demand among them: withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops and allowing farmers to work their land up to the fence; release of all prisoners from the Gilad Shalit swap who have been rearrested; an end to the siege and opening of the crossings; opening of a port and airport under UN management; expansion of the fishing zone; international supervision of the Rafah crossing; an Israeli pledge to a 10-year cease-fire and closure of Gaza’s air space to Israeli aircraft; permits to Gaza residents to visit Jerusalem and pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque; and an Israeli pledge not to interfere in internal Palestinian politics such as the unity government; opening Gaza’s industrial zone.

    These conditions are civilian; the means of achieving them are military, violent and criminal. But the (bitter) truth is that when Gaza is not firing rockets at Israel, nobody cares about it. Look at the fate of the Palestinian leader who had had enough of violence. Israel did everything it could to destroy Mahmoud Abbas. The depressing conclusion? Only force works.

    True, after Hamas started firing rockets, Israel had to respond. But as opposed to what Israeli propaganda tries to sell, the rockets didn’t fall out of the sky from nowhere. Go back a few months: the breakdown of negotiations by Israel; the war on Hamas in the West Bank following the murder of the three yeshiva students, which it is doubtful Hamas planned, including the false arrest of 500 of its activists; stopping payment of salaries to Hamas workers in Gaza and Israeli opposition to the unity government, which might have brought the organization into the political sphere.

  • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:46AM (#47505435)

    Why should anyone believe a person with a clear agenda, no access and no evidence?

    Wake me up when you have actual data to collaborate your (conspiracy) theory Israel's estimates are lies.

    Israeli's collect the rockets and rocket parts they are able to find. The answer is knowable and evidence obtainable. Have you even tried?

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SQL Error ( 16383 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:56AM (#47505459)

    If Israel is not willing to do the above, then don't complain when Hamas have to improvise just to have a fighting chance of defending themselves.

    Two points: First, their improvisations are war crimes; second, Hamas are the aggressor. This is not particularly complicated.

  • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:57AM (#47505471)

    Actually his assessment is simply based on a false premise.

    What performance characteristics make a rocket defense effective? To successfully intercept an artillery rocket of the type Hamas has been firing, an Iron Dome interceptor must destroy the warhead on the front end of the rocket. If the Iron Dome interceptor instead hits the back end of the target rocket, it will merely damage the expended rocket motor tube, basically an empty pipe, and have essentially no effect on the outcome of the engagement. The pieces of the rocket will still fall in the defended area; the warhead will almost certainly go on to the ground and explode.

    The Iron Dome's purpose is not to destroy the rockets mid-flight, its to protect the population centers. If the rocket is damaged and blows up a parked tractor in the farm field, mission accomplished. If the rocket is damaged and falls on an empty farm house, mission accomplished. If the rocket is damaged and falls on a school, ok yeah we can call that a failure.

  • The way he defines success and failure is framed to say all missile defense fails [].

    Iron Dome uses a combination of a proximity (radar activited) fuse and fragmentation. Sometimes the interceptor destroys the warhead. Sometimes it causes an explosion of the propellant which destroys the warhead. Sometimes it simply breaks the incoming missile or rocket into segments or destroys its ability to follow its planned ballistic path. According to Lloyd and Postol, if the warhead isn’t destroyed the interceptor failed.

    You don’t need a Ph.D. to see the immense flaw in this logic: if someone fires a missile at you and you aren’t hit that is good news.

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fnj ( 64210 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @01:16AM (#47505519)

    Here it comes, all the genocidal Zionist support posts...

    You don't have a single clue what "genocidal" means, you twisted evil tool.

  • by Normal_Deviate ( 807129 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @01:51AM (#47505623)
    I did RTFA, and he makes two real claims. His primary claim is that the iron dome system must be failing, because when the interceptor approaches the target from anything other than head on, the interceptor will fire its warhead at the wrong time. He implies that this failure is an inevitable consequence of geometry, but I don't see it. If you actually look at the diagrams, the interceptor has just a good a shot when approaching (say) from behind as from in front. In fact the odds look better to me from behind or the side, as the crossing speeds are lower and the shrapnel fan might actually run down the length of the target. The interceptor just needs to fire its warhead at a different moment. But his diagrams all show the warhead firing at the wrong time, for reasons that are not made clear.

    Is the iron dome system smart enough to account for basic geometry? I would think so, since the problem is pretty simple, and the approach angle will be known by the radar even before launch. But I don't really know. And I don't think he does either.

    His second claim might be more credible. He says that in hundreds of pictures of intercepts, only one clearly shows detonation of the incoming rocket. I don't know if this is true, and I don't trust his claim. But if it is true then it cries out for explanation.
  • by willy_me ( 212994 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:08AM (#47505669)

    It would be cool to find out just what the real statistics are. I'm pretty sure, though, that Israel classifies this information as a state secret and we may never know in our lifetimes.

    The rockets generate more psychological damage then physical. As far as weapons go, they are rather pathetic. All the iron dome really has to do is to make those it protects feel safe. If statistics have the potential of damaging this feeling of safety then you ca be assured that they will be kept secret.

    The other purpose of the iron dome is to limit the desire to fire the rockets in the first place. If one thinks their efforts are in vain then they are less likely to follow through. If Israel can convince members of Hamas that their rockets are not working then there will be fewer rockets launched at Israel.

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

    by LLKrisJ ( 1021777 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:19AM (#47505697) Journal

    Of course, if you put an entire people inside an area more akin to the ghetto of Warsaw then a real country. An area with an insanely high population density an almost no way in our out for armed forces of their own the what did you expect really?

    I am not condoning the firing of any weapon or participation in any combat activity amongst civilians but really... What do the Israeli expect??

    On the other hand, where are the other Arab countries when it comes to really help out the Palestinians?

    It ll never get solved, this conflict will stay a global source of misery for as long as we live probably.

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

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:33AM (#47505729) Journal

    second, Hamas are the aggressor. This is not particularly complicated.

    Israel bulldozes Palestinian homes and builds settlements, Hamas fires rockets into Israel.
    "Both sides" is usually a shitty argument to make, but in this case, both sides have been aggressors for decades.

    If it wasn't complicated, we'd have peace by now.

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:37AM (#47505739)

    > Here it comes, all the reactionary Jew hatred posts...

    They are coming because you wrote that, practically a first post even.

    It makes me wonder if your goal is to derail any thoughtful analysis of the story.
    Isn't that one of the tactics from the recently revealed GCHQ/JTRIG "Disruption Operational Playbook?" []

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

    by znrt ( 2424692 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:51AM (#47505775)

    Extreme would be to drop a nuke on them. See? Isn't it fun using strawmen to argue your point.

    may be i'm a bit picky, but i'd say robbing their land, expelling them, denying access to water and healthcare, imprisioning them indefinitely with no warrant, and killing them at will or bombing them with white phosphor is quite extreme.

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

    by SQL Error ( 16383 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:00AM (#47505791)

    They're not at war? Are you high? Hamas has declared war on Israel from day one. At this very moment Israel and Gaza is exchanging rockets missiles and bombs and hundreds of people are being killed every day. If, as you say, "Israel could wipe them out in a matter of days", then do it and get it over with.

    Israel are trying to minimise casualties on both sides. Hamas are trying to maximise Israeli casualties, and use Palestinian casualties to their political advantage. It's a perfect example of asymmetrical warfare; the capabilities and aims of the combatants are completely different.

    Israel has the military capability to destroy Gaza, just as the US had the military capability to destroy Iraq or Afghanistan back in 2003. But doing so is not in their long-term interests.

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

    by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:21AM (#47505839)

    As much as I have sympathy for the Palestinians, their land is gone and it isn't coming back, no more than the Roman Empire is going to rise again and reclaim Palestine as a province for the Romans.

    Is it fair that the land has left the hands of the Palestinians? Probably not. Did it happen? Yes. Will they ever get it back? Not in any meaningful way.

    For their own sake, it is time to move on. If their answer is getting their own civilians killed, I'd think even unconditional surrender and exile would be preferable to any group that is actually concerned about their civilian population.

    The Israelis are there. They aren't going anywhere, and they don't like the rhetoric that has been thrown at them about being cast into the sea. They remember genocide, and they aren't going back to Diaspora. The rocket attacks on the cities will only increase the resolve of a people who have the history that the Jews have.

    Peaceful protest does work, probably better on a country that is a democracy like Israel than a war ever would. We've seen it work elsewhere. Israel can hold a hard line while rockets are shooting at their cities, but they cannot hide behind that excuse if the rockets stop falling. Violence has failed the Palestinians and their Arab allies for 70 years, and that isn't going to change now.

    The time for what is "just" is over. It is now time to do what it takes to improve the future for everyone in Palestine. The bombs and rockets need to stop falling, and someone has to do it first. I think the Palestinians would have the most advantage from ending the struggle and adopting a policy that might actually net them more gains and fewer deaths of their own people. If Israel persists in extremist settlements and reprisals when there is nothing to reprise against, they will lose the support of their allies, and they need their allies. Painful as it would be, there is no military option for Palestine worth considering and so those actions should be set aside.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:27AM (#47505867)

    Israel has never shown themselves to be ready for peaceful coexistence (and neither has Hamas). The closest they've come to that is being agreeable to peacefully doing whatever they want; there have been plenty of times during ceasefires where they continue with illegal actions, knowing full well it'll result in return illegal actions by the other side.

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

    by SQL Error ( 16383 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:43AM (#47505913)

    More than 500 Palestinians dead and climbing and you say Israel is trying to minimise casualties? Do you seriously expect people to believe that?

    Absolutely, yes. If Israel were actually out to cause casualties, rather than to prevent them, the death toll would be enormous. If they were merely careless of civilian casualties, the death toll would not only be higher, it would be statistically correlated with the demographics of the Palestinian people, with deaths of women, children, and the elderly roughly in proportion to the size of those groups in the general population.

    Instead, the Palestinian death statistics are massively skewed towards males aged 18-38. That can't happen if you're killing civilians either deliberately or carelessly. But it's exactly what you'd see if you were carefully targeting enemy combatants.

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

    by thesupraman ( 179040 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:51AM (#47505935)

    So, please tell me.What do you think happens then?

    That Israel will stop blocking humanitarian support for Palestinians?
    Give them access to the resources that have been cut off?
    Stop bulldozing their towns to make room for 'settlers' bought in from overseas?
    Perhaps they will share some of the countries rather fine wealth with the people who have been forced out of the way?

    They have a great track record of allow those things previously, haven't they..
    No, they want the Palestinians gone, end of story - preferably wiped out so they cannot return.

    How can you see that playing out? remember, these are PEOPLE here, not some kind of disease.
    Israel wants only one outcome, and that has been quite clear for 30+ years, unfortunately.
    And they call themselves people of god. disgusting.

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @04:08AM (#47505985)

    For their own sake, it is time to move on

    They have been squeezed into a ghetto and there is nowhere to move on to each time an election brings another pogrom. It's not as if they can escape into Egypt.
    The ancestors of the bunch of fascists running Israel at this point would be horrified by this situation, especially how each shooting fish in a barrel episode coincides with an election.

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

    by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @04:15AM (#47506015)

    As long as they keep firing rockets at people, using their own people as human shields, they might as well let Israel block humanitarian aid, because humanitarian aid isn't going to get through anyway.

    What happens is that some of the stuff you mention will likely happen. No one is suggesting that the Israelis are saints here. It will take time for a peaceful solution to turn the tide. Is that worse than not only death, but decades of deaths that have been completely ineffectual?

    The realization needs to be made that there will never be improvement while Hamas is shooting rockets at Israeli civilians. It is simply PR cover for hardliner Israeli politicians to keep circling the wagons.

    You need a peaceful Israel that feels safe enough to not have to circle those wagons for them to purge the extremist elements that they can't quite get rid of now.

    Palestine as a current state is the worst kind of place carved out of completely impractical considerations. It's a failed state before it even had a chance to succeed. It needs peace more than it needs anything else to even have a chance.

    Hamas, is more like a gang that thrives from exploiting the misery and anger of its people more than it is an organization for freeing them. If Hamas was serious about protecting its people, it would unilaterally stop the rocket attacks and only use defensive measures, even if ineffectual. They *know* that the rocket attacks won't stop the Israeli reprisals, its just that they can only seem to respond to any crisis with violence, possibly because it is the only way they can maintain the backing of their supporters.

    There is no war to be won here. Just constant bombing into the distant future. The Palestinians can't conquer their ground back, and the Israelis won't budge unless the Palestinians stop pretending that it is still 1949 and they have addresses in what is now Israel. The Israelis grabbed that land by right of conquest, and then defended it against all comers, pretty much like every conqueror before them. Israel is there to stay, and Palestine is a shithole that will only improve if they stop pretending and get on with their future.

    This isn't the fair way for them to move forward, it's merely the only way they will move forward. Peace, even if unilateral, is the best option for the Palestinians as a people.

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

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @04:46AM (#47506101)

    Amira Hass [] and Gideon Levy [] are by no means unbiased reporters.

    Sure the demands to not seem unreasonable but what has Hamas offered? Nothing at all. Until Hamas changes their views on the existence of Israel there will be no peace.
    I would also like to point out that you have no references for what you call the Hamas conditions. As far as I can tell you might be making them up and/or embellishing them to make them look better.. Lets assume they are true look at a couple of demands

    allowing farmers to work their land up to the fence;

    So tunneling can be done without discovery.

    release of all prisoners from the Gilad Shalit swap who have been rearrested

    The swap which should never have been done as it rewards kidnappers.

    expansion of the fishing zone

    So fishing vessels can meet ships at sea and return with a "catch" of missiles

    an Israeli pledge to a 10-year cease-fire

    No pledge of a 10 year Cease fire from Hamas. A one sided cease fire is no cease fire at all.

    closure of Gaza’s air space to Israeli aircraft;

    So Hamas can fire rickets without danger of air strikes.

    Lets look at the next few statements

    Go back a few months: the breakdown of negotiations by Israel;

    Maybe the refusal to even talk about removing their insistence of the destruction od Israel might have something to do about it.

    the war on Hamas in the West Bank following the murder of the three yeshiva students,

    Did the Palestinian Authority or Palestinian people do anything to catch the criminals?

    stopping payment of salaries to Hamas workers in Gaza

    According to this [] it was Fatah that cut off the funds and not Israel.
    As to the opposition to a Hamas/Fatah Unity Government, who is to know which faction will come into control. It is just as likely Hamas will gain control and start up attacks again. Would you trust a government where one faction wants the destruction of your country? Again, as long as Hamas holds to the objective of the destruction of Israel all violence in the conflict is on their heads.

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @05:30AM (#47506225)

    That is a combination of revisionist history repeated in mainstream publications and outright lies.

    Sure, some properties were sold. But does China have sovereignty over California because many Chinese nationals bought land there?

  • Re:Here we go... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:02AM (#47506407)

    But we have one side ready for peaceful coexistence and the other side who wants only the total destruction of their enemies.

    Unfortunately, "peaceful coexistence" means land that families have farmed for generations being progressively taken away and given to Israeli settlers.

    In recent times, there has been so significant violence directed at Israel from the West Bank portion of the occupied territories. In fact, it seems fairly clear that the people who live there are ready for peaceful coexistence. How has Israel thanked them for this? Just take a look at the changing map of the West Bank and it is obvious how it is being broken up and separated by Israeli settlements.

    Israel could go a long way to maintaining the moral high ground if they just respected the 1967 borders.

  • The point? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @07:18AM (#47506457)

    The Iron Dome is designed to stop Iranian ballistic missiles tipped with Chemical, biological and in the future nuclear weapons. The fact that it has trouble hitting Hamas's glorified model rockets doesn't make it any less effective in its true mission. And eve if it really was only 5% effective, I'd take 5% less ballistic missiles headed at my town thank you.

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

    by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @10:04AM (#47507463)

    What exactly are they supposed to offer?

    There's two concessions that would grease the wheels to allow peace to happen. Either Hamas is barred from any government capacity in Palestine or Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist. Barring either of those concessions, any cease fire will only last until something else relights the powderkeg. You cannot negotiate with a party that doesn't recognize your existence unless you have leaders in that party that can see the forest for the trees like Anwar Sadat following the Yom Kippur War who was, incidentally, assassinated by Islamic jihadists for signing peace with Israel. That peace treaty also lead to Egypt getting kicked out of the Arab league until 1989.

    Israel has demonstrated in the past that it wants peace. It has removed Israeli settlers from Gaza, forceibly. It returned the entire Sinai pennisula to Egypt once the peace treaty following the Yom Kippur War was concluded. However that requires that the other party will engage honestly in negotiations that are seeking lasting peace. I cannot honestly say that will ever occur with Hamas.

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

    by weiserfireman ( 917228 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @10:53AM (#47507783) Homepage

    Israel's pre-1960 borders? The ones were the West Bank belonged to Jordan and Gaza belonged to Egypt?

    If it brought a real chance at peace, I believe Israel would agree to that. But Jordan doesn't want the West Bank anymore. Egypt doesn't want Gaza. Israel's pre-1960 borders still would not create a country called Palestine.

    Jordan and Egypt don't want to deal with the Palestinian problem anymore than Israel does.

  • Re:The UN (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:58AM (#47508289) Homepage

    answerable to the newly formed government of national consensus, which Hamas has left."


    I see lots of news stories about Hamas creating a new joint government with Fatah last month and none about them leaving it.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake