Islamic Jihad and Hamas Are Getting Better at Making Rockets

Sept. 21 2022

During its brief conflict with Israel last month, Palestinian Islamic Jihad managed to fire an average of 588 rockets and mortars per day. Put into the context of previous confrontations, that is a dramatic escalation over the average of 400 projectiles fired by terrorist groups in Gaza during the 2021 war, and 220 during the brief 2019 conflict. Uzi Rubin delves into these and related data to argue that the minimal casualties and physical damage Israel suffered during these exchanges are the product of the IDF’s ever-improving defensive capabilities, rather than any failings on the part of its enemies. He explains the implications:

Since even a failed launch causes alarms to be sounded in Israel that send the population to the bomb shelters and disrupt routine life, it is perhaps more cost effective for the armed Palestinian militias in Gaza to invest more effort in increasing the quantity of their rockets rather than spend the costly and time-consuming effort to make them more reliable.

With everything else being equal, producing and firing rockets is cheaper than shooting them down. Contrary to Clausewitz’s dictum that defense is easier than offense, in the case of missile warfare, and at the current state of military technology, the opposite is true: rocket and missile offense is easier than rocket and missile defense. . . . Instead of investing in fancy decoys, [Palestinian groups] invest in larger stockpiles of missile and rocket and in ever-growing fleets of survivable launchers. The idea is to drown the defenses under a veritable deluge of rocket and missiles, synchronized with an onslaught of cruise missiles and UAVs.

[T]he evidence is that all of Israel’s efforts to block the smuggling of machinery, raw materials, and components to the Gaza production lines are not too effective and are unable to stem the Gaza rocket buildup. It stands to reason that this buildup will eventually peak since there must be some inherent limitations of manpower, production capacity, and launching sites in Gaza. By the same token, the growth of Israel’s defensive capabilities is also sure to hit some ceiling eventually, due to several limiting factors, most importantly that of finances.

In other words, Israel and Gaza are locked in a technological arms race and, Rubin concludes, “there is no assurance that Israel will ultimately prevail.”

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Islamic Jihad

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy