It is difficult to comprehend the deliberations over, not to mention the objections to, the need to fortify the town of Sderot and Gaza-region communities that are at the forefront of fighting in the area. After all, they have been exposed to attacks for years now, so why are we even deliberating?
When a soldier is sent to the front he is equipped with combat means as well as with personal protection: A helmet, a bullet-proof vest, fireproof clothes, etc. When it comes to the Merkava tank project, whose average annual cost is about one billion dollars, a huge chunk of the budget is invested in fortification, not only in firing equipment: Steel that would protect the tank crew, special materials that absorb bullets, a fortified belly meant to withstand roadside bombs, and sophisticated electronic equipment that thwarts enemy intentions and diverts missiles and shells.
Even greater investments are undertaken in order to protect vessels and aircraft, where the problem is more acute and complex. Despite this, and at the expense of attack systems, huge sums have been invested and are being invested in developing and producing defense systems. Nobody ever said that fortifying fighter jets would require us to also fortify helicopters and cargo planes too, so why are we hearing claims that fortifying Sderot would force us to also fortify the southern town of Ashkelon?
Indeed, there are always deliberations regarding the proper balance between investing in attack means and defense means, but the question of whether to invest in fortification at all was never up for discussion. We never heard claims that if we fortify F-16 fighter jets we would later have to fortify F-15 jets, so maybe it’s better to avoid fortification altogether.
So why is this issue raised when civilians find themselves at the front? They are out there, completely exposed, and facing systematic attacks – and they need fortification. Urgently.
The IDF maintains an ongoing manhunt for rocket launchers 24 hours a day, and it does so with impressive success. We possess effective alert systems that are able to identify almost any rocket launched at Gaza-region communities. The rocket’s flight time enables civilians to take cover, if only there
was a proper fortified space within a walking distance. This fortification, by the way, will improve the security of Sderot and other area residents even if (or is it when) we go into Gaza, because it would provide the IDF and the government with more freedom to act.
We do not need to fortify ourselves to death, but we do need some fortification. The bottom line: We must fortify Gaza-region communities. Immediately!