The casualty count in the missile exchange between Israelis and Palestinians over the weekend has climbed to 21 Gazans but only two seriously wounded Israelis, bringing new focus to Israel's "Iron Dome" anti-missile system, which has worked so well in the lastest skirmish Israel wants to triple its size in a year. The latest missile spat at the Gaza Strip border, starting Friday with Israel's killing of a Palestinian military leader, shows no sign of abating; the AP grimly reports that two Palestinian militants and one Palestinian schoolboy were killed in airstrikes this morning.
No Israelis have been killed in the fighting yet, according to the AP, and that may have something to do with the newly reintroduced "Iron Dome." As CNN reports, the system was "[f]irst deployed in April 2011, the Iron Dome system targets incoming rockets it identifies as possible threats to city centers and fires an interceptor missile to destroy them in mid-air."
The system has an interception rate of 90 percent, The Jerusalem Post reports, leading to plans to "deploy a total of nine batteries by mid-2013." And Obama and the House of Representatives (but not yet Congress) want to infuse $205 million into Iron Dome. But the U.S. might be less enthusiastic about what Iron Dome means Israel's other brewing fight with Iran. A war with Iran might mean retaliation from Hezbollah and Hamas, two Iran-backed groups that often fire missiles into Israel. But with such of successful anti-missile system, the damage that such a retaliation would cause is diminished and war with Iran becomes less costly for Israel. Time's Karl Vick elaborates further: "The safer the Israeli public feels from missiles, the thinking goes, the greater the leeway for its leadership to decide upon an action that risks blowback."