The Effectiveness of Rocket Attacks and Defenses in Israel
Armstrong, Michael J.
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This empirical article studies rocket attacks and defenses in Israel during operations Protective Edge, Pillar of Defense, and Cast Lead, and also during the Second Lebanon War. It analyzes publicly available counts of rockets fired, fatalities, casualties, and property damage. The estimates suggest that interceptor deployment and civil defense improvements both reduced Israel’s losses slightly during Pillar of Defense and substantially during Protective Edge. They also imply that interceptor performance during Pillar of Defense may have been overstated. Ground offensives were the most expensive way to prevent rocket casualties. Interceptors were at least as cost-effective as military offensives, and their advantage improved over time.Without its countermeasures, Israel’s rocket casualties could have been more than fifty times higher during Operation Protective Edge. These results imply that Israel’s rocket concerns were more justified than critics admit, but its military operations were less worthwhile than intended.