On October 28, a Hizballah war game demonstrated the ability of its special forces to overrun Lebanon in two hours. It took Israel 19 days to respond: Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi finally confirmed on Nov. 15 that the Shiite terrorists may seize power after the UN Tribunal indicts their leaders for the Hariri assassination. The general's was dry – not a word about how Israel proposed to handle a violent hostile terrorist takeover of Beirut on Iran's behalf and the grave strategic peril it presented Israel.
One of the first targets Iran's surrogate plans to grab is Beirut International airport and harbor. Massive quantities of war materiel could then be delivered directly into Hizballah's hand in Beirut instead going the roundabout route through Syria's sea port at Tartous and Damascus airport as they do now.
So how will the IDF handle this brazen hostile act? Impose a belated blockade on Beirut and intercept Iranian freighters? Tehran has already made it clear that any party intercepting its shipping for searches would find itself at war with the Islamic Republic.
Will the Israeli Air force intercept Iranian air transports ferrying weapons and Revolutionary Guards fighters to sustain Hizballah's war machine against Israel?
Again, If Israel never once, in the four years since UN Security Council 1701 banned the import of weapons for Hizballah, fired a single shot to impede the vast quantities of arms smuggled in from Sytia to Hizballah since then, why suddenly now?
Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appear to be sunk in a state of suspended animation as attested to by three events in the last two days:
1. Both of them, backed by certain high-ranking military officers have made a big deal of the security incentives they say the Obama administration is willing to pledge in return for its second, 90-day moratorium. One of those incentives is another 20 F-35 stealth warplanes on top of the first twenty Israel has already purchased.
(The Palestinians have meanwhile dug their heels in against resuming talks claiming the US has given Israel too many benefits.)
The value of the warplanes is not in question, only their relevance to Israel's military muscle in view of the fact that those planes are not scheduled for delivery before 2020 – that is in ten years' time!
Does anyone know how many nuclear bombs Iran will have amassed since then or whether any will be deployed in Lebanon?
All that can be said for sure about the year 2020 is that Barack Obama will no longer be president of the USA, Netanyahu prime minister of Israel nor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad president of Iran – even though as things stand today, the last of the three might yet make himself supreme ruler a lifelong position.
Therefore, what good are the US F-35 warplanes when today Israel which lives under active threats from Iran, Hizballah, Syria and Hamas?
2. An Israeli intelligence officer, who opted to stay anonymous, confirmed Sunday, Nov. 14, that Hamas had obtained surface missiles (Improved Fajr-5,made in Iran) with a range of 80 kilometers and therefore capable of exploding in the heart of Tel Aviv. He blamed Egypt for not doing enough to thwart the smuggling of illicit weapons through Sinai into the Gaza strip, but neglected to mention what Israel had done to thwart their passage into the Strip and deployment.
This approach is typical of the mindset afflicting Israel's government, military and intelligence decision-makers these days. They seem to think that they need only to sound the alarm about threats and Washington or Cairo will do the rest. Israel's enemies are left in peace to build up their strength and magnify the menace they pose without interference.
3. Monday, Nov. 15, Colonel Zvika Haimovitch of the Israeli air defense corps told a government-sponsored aerospace conference in Jerusalem that within two years, or 2015 at the latest, Israel's skies will be hermetically protected against enemy missiles. In the next two to five years "we will turn this vision into reality," he said. Israel's multi-layered air defense network will be fully deployed by 2015, "combining short-range rocket interceptors with kamikaze satellites that blow up ballistic missiles in space."
He mentioned the Iron Dome developed by Israel for shooting down rockets with ranges of 5-70 kilometers as one of those tiers, David's Sling for intercepting more powerful rockets and the Arrow III for boosting a satellite beyond the Earth's atmosphere to collide with an incoming missile.
debkafile notes that the same day, American military sources disclosed that the IDF had only lately halted the introduction of the first Iron Dome battery to operational use because the battalion that was to have operated it had not finished training. Those sources mentioned a delay of at least one year.
Col. Haimovitch would have done better to use his public platform to address real events such as Iran's five-day countrywide air defense exercise which started Tuesday, Nov. 16, on driving off US and Israel warplanes and missiles venturing into its airspace. However, Israel's top brass are taking the lead from its political leaders, preferring to talk in the abstract about future threats when real perils lurk just behind Israel's door.