In 2008, Israel responded with Operation Cast Lead -- A brutal aerial bombardment and ground invasion that left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead and brought Israel widespread condemnation from abroad. November's conflict left about 150 Palestinians dead.
How do you explain the stark difference in the death toll? One element would be Iron Dome.
Iron Dome wasn't battle ready until 2009 or 2010. Last year's conflict was its first wartime test. After Israel assassinated a top Hamas militant responsible for rocket attacks, Hamas rained hundreds rockets into Israel -- even as far as Israel's largest city, Tel Aviv. Thousands of Israeli troops amassed on the border with Gaza. But they never went in. That's because Iron Dome didn't just provide Israelis cover from the rockets; it also provided political cover to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to negotiate a cease-fire before sending troops in.
"The Israelis over the last half decade or so have learned some pretty stark lessons about the diminishing returns of ground offensives in places like Lebanon, in places like the Gaza Strip," defense expert Ilan Berman told me, in a segment on Iron Dome that aired Tuesday on Dan Rather Reports on AXS-TV. "And so, Iron Dome gives them that flexibility that they need. They are addressing a security concern. But they're not addressing it with blunt force in the form of a ground operation. They're addressing it in a way that preserves their security, but limits collateral damage."
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