Israeli Rocket Reciprocity

For many years, terrorists in Gaza have frequently fired barrages of rockets into Israel. The majority are inaccurate short-range rockets which strike southern Israel. In addition, several longer-range rockets have struck deeper into Israel. Israel responds to many rocket attacks with pinpoint airstrikes that target Hamas military facilities, rocket launching sites, and training camps. While the U.N. and human rights organizations rarely condemn Hamas for shooting rockets into Israel, they often characterize Israeli airstrikes as a disproportionate response because they cause more casualties among Palestinians than rockets fired from Gaza cause among Israelis. International organizations also accuse Israel of escalating the cycle of violence and urge Israel to show restraint.

To date, Israel airstrikes have failed to stop Hamas from firing rockets into Israel.  Perhaps Israel should try a different approach to deterrence based on reciprocity. Instead of relying on airstrikes which succeed only in inviting further international condemnation of Israel, and risk the lives of young pilots, Israel can manufacture or buy an arsenal of inaccurate short-range rockets roughly equivalent to the ones fired by Hamas into southern Israel. That is, Israel can defend itself with rockets of destructive capacity less than or equal to the destructive capacity of the rockets fired into Israel by Hamas. Israel can place these rockets inside southern Israel where it can also install rocket launchers.

After Israel has completed these tasks, Israel can publicly warn Hamas and the international community that every time Hamas fires a rocket into any part of Israel, Israel will immediately respond by firing an inaccurate short-range rocket into Gaza. As Hamas has demonstrated, an inaccurate short-range rocket can land anywhere. The people in Gaza are more vulnerable than those in Israel because Gaza is more crowed and lacks bomb shelters and missile defenses. Every time Hamas ignores Israel’s public warning by firing a rocket into Israel, the Palestinian people may blame Hamas if Gaza suffers a disproportionate number of casualties after an assured reciprocal strike by Israel.

About the Author
Ted Sheskin is an emeritus professor of industrial engineering and the author of a textbook, Markov Chains and Decision Processes for Engineers and Managers. He has published peer-reviewed papers on engineering systems and mathematical algorithms. His letters to editors addressing politics, economic policy, and issues facing Israel and American Jews have appeared in the NY Times, Daily News, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Jewish News, Jewish Week, and Jewish Voice.
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