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Israel’s Operation Breaking Dawn: What Has Been Achieved So Far

Now the IDF is freer to concentrate on the primary task at hand.Fri Aug 12, 2022

Hugh Fitzgerald

The IDF has acquitted itself well in the first few days of its campaign in Gaza against Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Here are some of its accomplishments so far.

First, it has decapitated the terror group’s leadership. A report on its killing of both Tayseer al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour, the leaders of PIJ in the northern and southern commands, respectively, is here: “Israel strikes and kills another top Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza,” by Emanuel Fabian, Times of Israel, August 7, 2022:

The Israel Defense Forces struck and killed a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror group in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, military officials said.

Khaled Mansour was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Palestinian city of Rafah, according to officials. The terror group confirmed his death in a statement on Sunday morning.

He was the southern Gaza counterpart of Tayseer Jabari, the terror group’s commander in northern Gaza, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Friday.

The killing of Jabari was the opening strike of the IDF’s Operation Breaking Dawn. Since then, the PIJ has launched over 580 rockets at Israel, according to IDF estimates.

The IDF on Sunday morning published a video of the airstrike which it said killed Mansour, along with the commander of the terror group’s Rafah Brigade, Khattab Amassi, and Mansour’s deputy, Ziad Madalal.

The head of the military’s Operations Directorate, Maj. Gen. Oded Basiuk, said that according to “all available information,” Israel had now killed the entire PIJ top brass.

In the space of just three days, the IDF has decapitated the top echelon of the PIJ. And who will now want to step forward to replace Tayseer Jabari, or Khaled Mansour, or Khattab Amassi, or Ziad Madalal, knowing the fate that almost certainly awaits him?

Second, the IDF’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has again proven itself not in a test, but in battlefield conditions. And it has now managed to achieve an almost 100% success rate in intercepting PIJ rockets whose trajectory shows that they threaten to land in populated areas.

A report on that astonishing achievement is here: “Iron Dome at 97% success rate after 580 rockets fired from Gaza since Friday,” Times of Israel, August 7, 2022:

The Iron Dome missile defense system has achieved a 97 percent success rate intercepting incoming rockets, amid almost non-stop barrages launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group since Friday, the Israel Defense Forces said Sunday.

The Sunday morning[August 7] IDF data put the number of rockets and mortars launched toward Israel since Friday evening at 580. Iron Dome, which is used when the incoming projectile is headed for populated areas, intercepted 200 of them.

The IDF only uses Iron Dome when it has determined that the incoming projectile is likely to hit in populated areas; it does not waste its anti-missile missiles – each costs about $100,000 — on those it has calculated will land in open fields far from populated areas. And its “success rate” — so far an astonishing 97% — is based on how many of those projectiles headed toward populated areas were intercepted.

In addition, 120 projectiles fell short and landed in the Gaza Strip.

The interception rate marks an ongoing improvement since Iron Dome, first deployed in 2011, faced its first major test during the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, when it managed to shoot down 75% of the incoming projectiles at which it was directed.

That rate rose to 80% success rate during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and 90% during last year’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, the IDF said.

The Israeli weapons developers never rest, but work constantly to improve their products. Iron Dome is a dramatic example of this. In 2012, during Operation Pillar of Defense, Iron Dome missiles shot down 75% of its targets; in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Iron Dome shot down 80%, and by 2011, in Operation Guardian of the Walls, its rate of successful interceptions reached 90%. And now, in Operation Breaking Dawn, the IDF’s Iron Dome managed a staggering 97% success rate. This has given the Israeli civilians living near Gaza a well-deserved, and necessary, feeling of security.

Here, in sum, are Israel’s accomplishments during the first four days of Operation Breaking Dawn.

First, the IDF has taken out the entire leadership of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Its top commanders in northern and southern Gaza — Tayseer Jabari and Khaled Mansour — and more than a dozen of their closest aides are all dead. And no one has stepped forward  to replace them.

Second, the IDF has conducted airstrikes that have so far destroyed nearly two dozen rocket-launching sites of the Palestinian Islamic Brigade.

Third, as in every Gaza war since 2012, the IDF has again employed, and thus battle-tested, its Iron Dome anti-missile system. And it has shown itself to have set up an almost impregnable shield, whereby any rockets fired at Israel that are deemed likely to hit a populated area have a 97% chance of being shot down by Iron Dome.

Fourth, the PIJ has been forced to fight alone, because Hamas, its rival, has refrained from helping it out. The leaders of Hamas value their own lives, and they don’t want to be dragged into a war not of their own making. Hamas remembers what happened to it during the 11-day war with Israeli in May 2021. The terror group wants quiet in Gaza for now, and is furious with the PIJ for threatening Israel and planning attacks on the Jewish state, that led to the preemptive strikes by the IDF on PIJ leaders and weapons. The quiet from Hamas – which has not lifted a finger to help PIJ – also makes PIJ well aware that the larger terror group is not exactly unhappy that its hotheaded rival is being devastated by the relentless hammer blows of the IDF. It has been a longstanding strategic goal of Israel to widen the gulf between Hamas and PIJ; with Operation Breaking Dawn, it has now accomplished that goal. And within a few days, Israel is likely to wrap things up. Having dismembered PIJ, the IDF wants to concentrate again on its main worry – Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.

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