The Negev (Naqab) desert in the south of present-day Israel is home to 200,000 indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel, known as Bedouins, most of whom arecompletely defenseless against falling rockets because the Israeli government refuses to protect their villages and denies them the right to build bomb shelters.
One of two Israeli civilians killed since Israel began its relentless bombing campaign in Gaza was 32-year-old Auda al-Wadj.
He died when a rocket fired from Gaza struck his home in Qasr al-Ser, a Bedouin village near Dimona that lacks sirens, bomb shelters and cover from Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system because, according to Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, the Iron Dome “does not protect agricultural areas.”
As life in Gaza grinds to a halt amid death and destruction from Israel’s merciless bombing campaign, Israeli casualties from Palestinian rockets fired in response to Israel’s military attacks and illegal policy of collective punishment and siege have been minimal.
This is due in large part, says Israel, to the Iron Dome, a US-subsidized missile defense system that Israel says intercepts rockets before they land.
As Dan Murphy reports in the Christian Science Monitor, experts believe that Israeli claims about Iron Dome’s effectiveness are grossly exaggerated.
One missile expert, Michael Armstrong of Canada’s Brock University, “concludes that fewer rockets are being fired this time from Gaza, that they’re less accurate, and being intercepted less often by Iron Dome than in 2012.”
Rockets fired by Palestinian groups lack guidance systems and can only be aimed in a general direction.
Theodore Postol a missile expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has noted that “examination of photographs showing contrails of attempted interceptors shows few head-on hits – in his estimation just 5 percent of the time. He argues that absent such hits, the system is not performing as advertised.”
Rather, experts say, the fact that casualties have been minimal as a result of rocket fire from Gaza is more likely due to an effective early warning system and the availability of bomb shelters.
But Israel’s government says — and most Israelis apparently believe — that Iron Dome is effective. And Israel also denies Bedouins the right to build bomb shelters; the Israeli army defines their homes as “open areas” unworthy of Iron Dome protection.
Combined with Israel’s vast network of bomb shelters and the sheer lack of firepower in the Palestinian arsenal, the Iron Dome has helped shield Israelis — psychologically at least — from the consequences of ghettoizing and imprisoning 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza.
But not all Israeli lives are worthy of this protection.
Israel’s high court on Sunday rejected a petition filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on behalf the Negev Bedouin community requesting equal protection from falling rockets.
Read the rest at The Electronic Intifada