Former Shin Beit chief Avi Dichter defends ex-chief of staff Moshe Yaalon’s statement on Israel’s ability to knock out the Iranian nuclear threat for a decade

At a lecture Saturday, March 11, Dichter, a senior candidate on the ruling Kadima’s Knesset list, asserted the general’s opinion was professional not political. “Despite Iran’s threat to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel,” said the former intelligence chief, Israel is a safer place to live and visit than Iran.”
debkafile adds: Dichter’s approval of General Yaalon’s proactive view on the Iranian nuclear question exposes once again the broad differences on security matters in Kadima. Party leader, acting prime minister Ehud Olmert, has stated his preference for reliance on international efforts to halt Iran’s progress towards a nuclear bomb.
Addressing the Hudson Institute in Washington Thursday, Gen. Yaalon said dozens of targets spread across Iran could be struck by means other than an air force attack.
Because they are stationary, they can be hit with greater accuracy than Israeli air force attacks on terrorist operatives, who are usually traveling in vehicles.
This was the first explicit reply to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahamdinejad’s repeated threats to wipe Israel off the map and its nuclear delegate’s warning to inflict “pain and harm” on the United States.
Chief of staff until nine months ago, Yaalon said it would be preferable for other nations to do the job, “but you can’t rule out Israel.”
This was a reminder to voters facing a general election March 28 how the late Likud prime minister, Menahem Begin, ventured to order a successful Israeli air force strike against Saddam Hussein’s nuclear reactor in 1981, defying the world community for the sake of national security.
Yaalon expected a sharp Iranian counter-attack to an Israeli knockout blow to its nuclear installations. They might shoot missiles and activate the Lebanese Hizballah which has deployed 12,000 rockets supplied by Tehran which are capable of striking 80 kilometers inside Israel. However, the Arrow anti-missile system is fully deployed, Yaalon revealed, and capable of intercepting the missiles in Iran’s arsenal.
He predicted the Iranians could have enough know-how for building a nuclear device within the next six to 18 months and produce one within three to six years.
debkafile‘s political sources add: The former IDF chief’s lucid statement on a pressing peril and a plan for dealing with it underline the uncertainties innate in Olmert’s pledge of permanent borders within four years (some day), instead of clarity on immediate issues. Opposition leaders Binyamin Netanyahu and Amir Peretz are no clearer than the acting prime minister on urgent security issues.

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