Attrition: The Cost Of War Against Israel

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January 29, 2019: Although Israel was not technically at war in 2018 the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) saw a lot of action because of continued attacks from Syria, in the West Bank and Gaza. Casualties were low, with 16 Israelis killed (nine civilians and nine soldiers or police). In 2017 20 Israelis died, compared to 16 in 2016 and 28 in 2015, Most of these deaths were in or near the West Bank as a result of the Palestinian call for individuals to attack using rocks, firebombs, knives or vehicles. These attacks usually failed and resulted in about five Palestinians killed for every Israeli. The Palestinian government considered this a victory but most Palestinians lost enthusiasm for this sort of thing.

There was also a decline in less-lethal attacks with 2,057 incidents of rock-throwing attacks in 2018 compared to 5,082 in 2017. In both years there were about the same number of attacks (800-900) using firebombs. The Palestinian attacks also resulted in a lot of arrests (3,173 in 2018 and 3,627 in 2017). Many of these arrests were during raids on suspected terrorist locations, which resulted in 404 weapons seized in 2018 and 475 in 2017. In 2018 over half a million dollars in cash was seized, money to be spent for terror attacks.

In Gaza, the 2014 ceasefire was broken in March 2019 with a new Hamas offensive against the barrier fence using thousands of civilians recruited to rush the fence as cover for armed Hamas men seeking to throw grenades or firebombs at Israeli troops. In addition, Hamas and other Islamic terror groups in Gaza fired over a thousand rockets and mortar shells into Israel. About a quarter of these projectiles that were going to land in inhabited areas were intercepted by Iron Dome missiles while another 45 landed but caused property damage and few casualties. In retaliation, Israel carried out 865 airstrikes against Hamas and other Islamic terrorist locations in Gaza. Israeli forces also detected and destroyed 15 Hamas tunnels near, and some just across, the Israeli border. Israel also built another 27 kilometers of their new anti-tunnel barrier which made it easier to detect tunnel construction activity.

In the north, Israel discovered five Hezbollah tunnels and destroyed the four that were near or slightly across the Israeli border. To counter growing Iranian operations in Syria Israeli warplanes flew over 2,000 fighter sorties and over 600 by armed helicopters. Much of the reconnaissance was carried out UAVs, which spent over 32,000 hours in the air.

This high level of air activity was costly because the jet aircraft cost over $30,000 per flight hour with helicopters and UAVs costing several thousand dollars per hour (varying according to aircraft size and crew size, UAVs are the cheapest). Iron Dome fired over 400 missiles, costing $90,000 each and nearly a thousand missiles and smart bombs were used during airstrikes in Syria and Gaza. These weapons cost from $30,000 (smart bombs) to over $100,000 (for missiles). There was a lot of activity by armored and self-propelled artillery but the active forces maintained a 90 percent readiness rate. This was at the expense of less vehicle maintenance for armored vehicles in reserve units.

One of the most serious losses for the Palestinians was widespread awareness among foreign donors that much of the aid money provided was spent on encouraging Palestinians to engage in terrorist acts. Terrorists who died in the act had their families rewarded according to how many Israelis were killed in the attack. Terrorists imprisoned were paid a monthly amount that varied with how much damage the imprisoned terrorist had inflicted. Some foreign donors had known about how their donations were diverted to supporting terrorism. That is illegal in many of the donor countries and now the Palestinians are seeing a lot of donors diverting their efforts to other charities.

 


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