The revelation that the Iron Dome system can't protect Sderot is only the latest bad card played by the Olmert government as it goes through all its options for dealing with the problem of rocket attacks from Gaza, except the only one that will actually work-- reoccupying Gaza.
Month after month, Hamas has made the political and strategic case for reoccupying Gaza. Yet even with Israeli soldiers being held hostage in Gaza and Sderot continually under fire, it's the one card off the table as far as the Olmert government is concerned. And that is why Hamas has boldly made the case for reoccupying Gaza, because it knows this government is too weak to actually do it.
The pursuit of passive solutions was always futile, the Separation Wall to Disengagement to Iron Dome are all part of the same dead end, the attempt to find an alternative to engaging the enemy. But there is no alternative to engaging the enemy and the Iron Dome's inability to defend Sderot only highlights the nature of the problem. Iron Dome was intended to counter rockets from four kilometers away but the enemy is simply too close and breathing down our necks.
It isn't that pursuing anti-missile systems isn't a good idea, but until those systems are capable of effectively functioning on a large scale, the value of such systems is primarily as a deterrent. With SDI or "Star Wars", Reagan was pursuing a system whose value was not simply in its ability to deflect Russian ICBM's but in creating a loophole in MAD that left Russia naked to American ICBM's. The strength of SDI was that it not only promised to strengthen America's defenses but that it strengthened America's potential offensive capabilities. What really terrified the Russians was the prospect that America could hit them but that they would not be able to hit America back.
The Anti-Kassam systems Israel is developing have no such function. They're meant only to fill a gap in Israel's vulnerability to Kassams, just as the wall was meant to block suicide bombers. The problem is that closing one door, even if effective, allows the terrorists to pursue another strategy. If they couldn't get through the wall, they shot over it. If they can't shoot conventional rockets over the wall, they'll embrace a third strategy and Israel will once again find itself scrambling to catch up with hundred million dollar programs while exposing its citizens to harm.
SDI made sense as a form of deterrence because the Russians were not in a shooting with the United States. Once you're in a shooting war, worrying about deterrence falls into the category of "too little, too late". Israel is under fire and when a country is under fire, its only real choice is to put out the fire by fighting back.
Deterrence may seem more moral but in fact it's amoral, because it needlessly prolongs the violence. Jordan ended the Palestinian Arab Intifada in a handful of bloody days when it first began. Israel fired rubber bullets and tear gas. Today Israel has been carved up and a Palestinian Terrorist state is bombing it from inside its own borders. And yet the fundamental lesson still goes unlearned, it's better to brutally settle the question than to draw out the debate in order to maintain some illusory high ground.