Thursday, October 8, 2015

There's No "Iron Dome" For Stabbings In Israel

Israel has responded to stabbing attacks today in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem by installing metal detectors in predominantly Muslim areas of Jerusalem. These include the Damascus and Yaffo gates of the Old City.

Deployed strategically, metal detectors may help reduce the incidence of attacks and restore a sense of safety among a frightened Israeli population. However, these measures are a partial solution, and they indicate the limitations of a purely technological response to terror.

Israel is famous for using technology to solve its security problems. The quintessential example is of course the Iron Dome system which shoots down rockets from Gaza intended for civilian targets in Israel. Iron Dome, while expensive, is an amazing piece of technology. 

However, an Iron Dome for person-on-person violence is simply not a realistic option. During the spate of car ramming attacks last year in Jerusalem, Israel installed concrete blocks at Jerusalem's light rail station. While it may have deterred some attacks, it didn't stop them entirely. In this latest round of stabbing attacks, Israel faces a similar challenge. It simply cannot install a metal detector on every street in the country. Given limited resources, Israel is being smart by placing metal detectors in highly trafficked areas. But there are too many streets and too many people for any technological response to stabbings to work on its own.

The point is not that Israel should stop using its available resources to protect its population. Rather, it's that when the underlying problems are political, the solutions must be political as well. If Israel blocks rockets, Palestinian terrorists will respond with cars. If Israel blocks cars, Palestinian terrorists will respond with knives. These attacks are heinous acts of terrorism against innocent people. But they are politically motivated and require a political solution. This round of stabbings will stop, but without a change in the political status quo, the next round of stabbings will come, stronger than ever.

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