Iran’s attack and Israel’s 99 percent victory

Iran’s attack and Israel’s 99 percent victory

In the annals of the military confrontations with hostile forces that Israel has seen over the years, the events of April 13 could well go down as the 99 percent victory.

As is fairly well known by now, the 99 percent is the estimate of the successful interception by the IDF and allied forces of the more than 300 attack drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles that Iran launched at Israel. The 99 percent victory is very good news.

As a retired accountant, however, I’m rarely content with looking at any ratio without also considering its reciprocal and other major numbers to see what those might reveal.

Two other statistics stood out for me. First, the 1% rate of failed deterrence. And a particular 10% portion of the success, which I’ll get to further on.

If we want to put a name on the 1% failure, we might consider the story of 7-year-old Amina al-Hassouni, struck in the head by missile shrapnel in her Negev home, who at last report is still fighting for her life in a Beersheba hospital. Amina’s father, Muhammad al-Hassouni, describes her as a child “who likes to laugh and have fun all the time,” telling the New York Times that she is also a good student with a strong personality. And she loves to draw.

The al-Hassounis live in al-Fur’ah, a Bedouin Arab community in the Negev. Israeli Bedouin Arabs generally follow Muslim tradition. Out of a total Bedouin Arab population of about 300,000, some 120,000, like the Al-Hassounis, live in “unrecognized” villages. A recent report in the Times of Israel noted that most such villages lack rocket shelters and also are not under the umbrella of the Iron Dome system, which intercepts only rockets directed at urban areas registered on maps, one of many inequities that impact life there. Lawyers for Arab minority rights have pointed out that the 5,000 residents of al-Fur’ah haven’t been able to effectively exercise their right to vote in Israeli national elections, due to the long distances to ballot boxes, none of which are situated there.

When the missile fragments fell on the roof of their home in the wee hours of the morning, the al-Hassounis could barely hear the weak siren alert from the nearby town of Arad, and did the only thing they could do. They went out into the open.

The fate of the al-Hassouni family belies the Iranian regime’s pretense of support for Palestinians and Muslims. “May God demolish them,” Muhammad al-Hassouni told the New York Times.

At the same time, he makes no secret of the fact that he is quite unhappy with the Israeli government. When he was interviewed shortly after the attack, he also showed the reporters an order he had received two weeks earlier, directing him to knock down his home, which the authorities call “illegal.”

Now consider for a moment the 10 percent.

I’m speaking of the dozens of Iranian drones that the Kingdom of Jordan intercepted and destroyed as they flew over its airspace, and an unspecified number of others that French President Emmanuel Macron said his country’s forces shot down at Jordan’s request. Together, it is likely that they countered about a tenth of the Iranian attack. The Jordanian participation in the common fight — “in defense of our own sovereignty” — was practically unprecedented, and notably, it came after a background of steady deterioration of Israeli-Jordanian relations during the Netanyahu years, and especially during the war in Gaza.

Israel’s defensive victory was due in no small part to the Biden administration’s leadership in mobilizing Jordan, France, and Britain to take an active part in the interceptions, and it is a proof of concept for Biden’s larger vision of a regional framework for security and peace, which includes moderate Arab governments who for their own national reasons are concerned with Iran’s growing hegemony.

It is also worth remembering that all of the defensive technology employed by Israel in fending off the attacks — Iron Dome, the longer-range David’s Sling interception system, and the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 weapons, which targets ballistic missiles as they approach their targets — have been the product of joint development programs with the U.S., U.S. major funding, or both, with the large-scale U.S. funding for Iron Dome having begun by President Obama.

The lesson of October 13 is that Israel — recently very much isolated from vital world support due to the level of carnage on Palestinian civilians in the Gaza war — relies on and needs allies if it can continue to repel Iran’s hostile moves and further contain this major adversary. This is not lost in Israel either. A Hebrew University survey conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Iranian aerial attacks, reported in the Times of Israel, found that 74% of Israelis opposed a counterattack on Iran “if it undermines Israel’s security alliance with its allies,” and a plurality of 43% believe that for the day after the war in Gaza, Israel “should rely on its allies” for a future resolution of the situation.

The long-running Gaza conflict that began last October 7 has been nothing short of a catastrophe for both Israelis and Palestinians. The Iranian aerial attack on Israel of April 13, which followed the deadly strike on Iran’s consulate in Damascus two weeks earlier and was attributed to Israel, puts us all on notice that escalation of that conflict into a larger regional war — which no country really wants and whose consequences would be unthinkable — is a possibility that no longer can be considered slight. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians, and definitely not the United States, would benefit from such a war.

Leadership by President Biden and his administration has again been key here. The president, to his credit, has pushed for the three Ds — deterrence, diplomacy, and de-escalation. This push quite possibly prevented the April 13 Iranian strike from becoming far worse. President Biden’s deterrence, diplomacy, and de-escalation must be continued if the region and the world is to find a way out of this dire situation.

For Israel, the related cooperation that’s essential must include potential partners within its own population, like the al-Hassounis, and in neighboring Arab countries, like Jordan. Such potential partners have been driven away repeatedly by the current far-right government, with its intense opposition to Palestinian and other Arab rights. A program of repair of relations with such potential partners, hopefully by a new Israeli government capable of doing it, is an urgent necessity.

More food for thought: One of the more dramatic stories of heroism on the day of the horrendous October 7 Hamas murder attack came from the Negev Bedouin community of Rahat. Four men from that village drove the 24 miles into the massacre site at the Kibbutz Be’eri music festival to rescue a cousin, and before they left, they safely evacuated 30 to 40 Jewish Israelis from under the noses of the terrorists. Good things can happen.

Mark Lurinsky of Montclair is recently retired from a career in public accounting. He is an activist in local politics and a member of the steering committee of J Street’s New Jersey chapter.

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