Iran plans on using game-changing weapons in its proxy war against Israel

Going on five years, Iran has been waging a "quiet" war against Israel through its proxies like Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas, and Hezb'allah.  This so-called "war between wars" basically involves rocket attacks on Israel.  In just this past November for example, the PIJ reportedly fired over 450 missiles into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

This conflict is a low-intensity cat-and-mouse game having two dimensions.  One is where Iranian proxies fire missiles into Israel, while the Israelis use their Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept them.  The other is that Iran constantly tries to transfer missiles and missile technology into the hands of its terrorist clients while the Israel Air Force hunts down and attempts to destroy missile storage and assembly sites.  Throughout, Israel is playing defense. 

So far, Israel is winning this contest.  It has taken out some 300 of these high-level targets, and its Iron Dome is said to have a success rate of over 86 percent.  A large part of Iron Dome's effectiveness is due to the fact that up until now, the missiles used against Israel have been dumb ones lacking precision guidance.  Such rockets do not have target-acquisition capabilities, nor do they possess any GPS (a global positioning system).  But as Jonathan Schanzer writes in Commentary, "Iran is now working overtime to establish a program that will allow its proxies to convert their dumb rockets into smart one."

This can be accomplished by retrofitting a dumb rocket with a circuit board and the appropriate software.  The estimated cost of such an upgrade is about $15,000.  (Think of Obama money at play.)  Once done, this then would give the Islamic terrorist the ability to strike within five to ten yards of their intended targets.  With precision guidance, the missiles could well "outmaneuver, outsmart, or overwhelm Israeli missile-defense systems."  Such missiles might also be immune to electronic jamming, which is something Israel has been relying on.

Precision-guided munitions is a game-changer.  To date, Israel has been content to keep its powder dry, responding only in a measured manner to the provocations.  However, should these terrorist missiles start hitting sensitive targets, the Israeli  public will demand protection.  Israel could always initiate ground action, but this is bloody and costly.  Before that, the Israeli Air Force is apt to be far more aggressive in its targeting.

One of the defenses that Hezb'allah and the PIJ use to protect their missile infrastructure is human shields.  Methods are devised to hide missile assets under homes and in schools, hospitals, refugee camps, apartment buildings, and the like.  So far, Israel has been scrupulous in taking care to minimize civilian causalities.  This could change with the introduction of precision-guided munitions into the battle space, even though it would entail tremendous public relations damage.  The media would undoubtedly paint Israel as the bad guy for destroying the missile factories and the ensuing collateral damage while turning a blind eye to the terrorists who deliberately put their non-combatants at risk while targeting Israeli civilians.

Here, the U.S. has provided some level of relief.  In December 2018, President Trump signed the bipartisan "Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act" into law.  A variant of this law is also circulating at the United Nations.  This law would allow the U.S. to sanction those who use human shields.  This might have some deterrence value.  But more importantly, this law can enhance the operational legitimacy and freedom of both the U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Force in future conflicts.  Once it has been established that targeting terrorist infrastructure surrounded by human shields is legal (and hopefully protected from international opprobrium), those using civilians in this callous way lose one of their key advantages. 

Neither this law nor any other one is likely to fully stop Islamic terrorist groups from using their civilians as human shields.  The introduction of precision-guided rockets into the battle space can only ramp up the intensity of the conflict.  This is probably what the Iranian regime wants, feeling that it can win a war of attrition against Israel. 

The mullahs, however, are playing a dangerous game.  Someday, Israel might feel that it can no longer afford to play this exhausting game of whack-a-mole and decided to solve its problem by directly cutting off the head of the snake.  Tehran shouts "death to Israel" but is too weak to accomplish it.  The same cannot be said of Israel.  And it is perhaps this impotency relative to Israel that accounts for much of the rage found in the religious fanatics who control Iran.

Going on five years, Iran has been waging a "quiet" war against Israel through its proxies like Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas, and Hezb'allah.  This so-called "war between wars" basically involves rocket attacks on Israel.  In just this past November for example, the PIJ reportedly fired over 450 missiles into Israel from the Gaza Strip.

This conflict is a low-intensity cat-and-mouse game having two dimensions.  One is where Iranian proxies fire missiles into Israel, while the Israelis use their Iron Dome missile defense system to intercept them.  The other is that Iran constantly tries to transfer missiles and missile technology into the hands of its terrorist clients while the Israel Air Force hunts down and attempts to destroy missile storage and assembly sites.  Throughout, Israel is playing defense. 

So far, Israel is winning this contest.  It has taken out some 300 of these high-level targets, and its Iron Dome is said to have a success rate of over 86 percent.  A large part of Iron Dome's effectiveness is due to the fact that up until now, the missiles used against Israel have been dumb ones lacking precision guidance.  Such rockets do not have target-acquisition capabilities, nor do they possess any GPS (a global positioning system).  But as Jonathan Schanzer writes in Commentary, "Iran is now working overtime to establish a program that will allow its proxies to convert their dumb rockets into smart one."

This can be accomplished by retrofitting a dumb rocket with a circuit board and the appropriate software.  The estimated cost of such an upgrade is about $15,000.  (Think of Obama money at play.)  Once done, this then would give the Islamic terrorist the ability to strike within five to ten yards of their intended targets.  With precision guidance, the missiles could well "outmaneuver, outsmart, or overwhelm Israeli missile-defense systems."  Such missiles might also be immune to electronic jamming, which is something Israel has been relying on.

Precision-guided munitions is a game-changer.  To date, Israel has been content to keep its powder dry, responding only in a measured manner to the provocations.  However, should these terrorist missiles start hitting sensitive targets, the Israeli  public will demand protection.  Israel could always initiate ground action, but this is bloody and costly.  Before that, the Israeli Air Force is apt to be far more aggressive in its targeting.

One of the defenses that Hezb'allah and the PIJ use to protect their missile infrastructure is human shields.  Methods are devised to hide missile assets under homes and in schools, hospitals, refugee camps, apartment buildings, and the like.  So far, Israel has been scrupulous in taking care to minimize civilian causalities.  This could change with the introduction of precision-guided munitions into the battle space, even though it would entail tremendous public relations damage.  The media would undoubtedly paint Israel as the bad guy for destroying the missile factories and the ensuing collateral damage while turning a blind eye to the terrorists who deliberately put their non-combatants at risk while targeting Israeli civilians.

Here, the U.S. has provided some level of relief.  In December 2018, President Trump signed the bipartisan "Sanctioning the Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act" into law.  A variant of this law is also circulating at the United Nations.  This law would allow the U.S. to sanction those who use human shields.  This might have some deterrence value.  But more importantly, this law can enhance the operational legitimacy and freedom of both the U.S. military and the Israeli Defense Force in future conflicts.  Once it has been established that targeting terrorist infrastructure surrounded by human shields is legal (and hopefully protected from international opprobrium), those using civilians in this callous way lose one of their key advantages. 

Neither this law nor any other one is likely to fully stop Islamic terrorist groups from using their civilians as human shields.  The introduction of precision-guided rockets into the battle space can only ramp up the intensity of the conflict.  This is probably what the Iranian regime wants, feeling that it can win a war of attrition against Israel. 

The mullahs, however, are playing a dangerous game.  Someday, Israel might feel that it can no longer afford to play this exhausting game of whack-a-mole and decided to solve its problem by directly cutting off the head of the snake.  Tehran shouts "death to Israel" but is too weak to accomplish it.  The same cannot be said of Israel.  And it is perhaps this impotency relative to Israel that accounts for much of the rage found in the religious fanatics who control Iran.