Tuesday, January 03, 2012

3-Jan-12: The life-and-death threat from our neighbors: the military has now put some numbers on it

A May 2009 press photo of an Iranian Sejil-2 surface-to-surface
missile. That's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei supervising
from the wall. 
It's a feature of modern government that ordinary citizens - and not only here in Israel - get to see the confidential things that politicians and civil servants know when it's budget time. The behind-closed-doors financial arguments have a tendency to generate information leaks that appear to make the case for one side's arguments or demolish the other's.

Yaakov Katz writing today for the Jerusalem Post reveals some sensitive info about the IDF's assessments about the missile threat to the Israeli home-front. It happens that the government is battling with the IDF over defence budget reductions that were decided upon in the wake of the street protests in Israeli cities just a few months ago.

The key statement in his news report is that the military believes hundreds of Israelis are likely to die if war breaks out this year. The estimate is that the enemies on our borders will fire 8,000 rockets and other missiles.

Published yesterday, this photo published in a worried Arab News
purports to show Iranian navy officials celebrating after
the launch of a new Ghader missile
(AP Photo/Fars News Agency) [Image Source
The estimate for five years out says that a war in 2017 - with Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and/or Iran or whichever similar enemy emerges (the list of candidates holds no surprises) - would likely include the firing of 15,000 rockets and missiles into Israel with commensurately greater devastation and casualties. And the forces on the other side will have missiles with far greater accuracy than anything in their overstocked arsenals today. Army officials are warning that the threatened budget cuts will hamper the IDF's ability to procure new missile defense systems, including such made-in-Israel breakthroughs as acclaimed Iron Dome anti-rocket system for intercepting short-range rockets (see "30-Dec-11: Life-saving invention of the year"); the David's Sling (against medium-range rockets), and the Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 (against long-range ballistic missiles). Israel's defence strategy strongly emphasizes anti-missile warfare, given the nature of the weapons already stocked by our enemies today. So those budgetary arguments actually resonate with ordinary citizens for solid, existential reasons.

To fortify the point about how real the dangers to Israelis are, the Iranians flexed their military muscle and made several announcements in the last few days about new, capacity-enlarging weapons systems now going into service. They say they successfully test-fired a long-range missile as well as a medium-range rocket that brought down an aerial target. These tests were part of massive naval exercises carried out by the Iranian navy in the Arabian Gulf (the Iranians don't call it that), near the Straits of Hormuz, "one of the world's most sensitive waterways". Iran, threatening to close the Straits by force if sanctions are imposed on its oil exports, already has missile systems capable of hitting Israel as well as US bases in other parts of the Middle East (see photo above).

Actually, the Iranians have additional threats up their sleeves. You can get a taste in a November 2010 article entitled "150,000 Iran missiles awaiting Israel"; it appears on PressTV, a global broadcasting empire owned by the Islamic Republic and monitored round-the-clock for compliance with Teheran's official Ayatollah-dictated line. So you know it's reliable.

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