Israel Air Force chief indicates no total security against multi-directional missiles

Israeli Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Ido Nehushtan told a Tel Aviv University audience Friday, Nov. 27: “The time for hard decisions is fast approaching,” adding “The range of security threats to Israel is very complex and we must prepare for all exigencies.” He was addressing a ceremony marking 30 years of the IDF’s Talpiot program which offers hi-tech, math and physics training and degrees for high IQ conscripts to join special projects.
Nehushtan was clearly referring to the No. 1 security challenge facing Israel, which is Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its constant threats against the Jewish state. debkafile‘s military experts translate the “hard decisions,” he referred to as the tough choice of priorities facing government and military decision-makers in a potential war. They would have to choose between striking Iran’s ballistic missile bases or the missiles pointing at Israel from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, as well dealing with hostile ships facing Israel from a fifth direction, the Mediterranean.
All five potential fronts were addressed by the joint US-Israel Juniper Cobra 10 missile interception exercise that took place for two weeks at the beginning of November. US and Israeli forces successfully practiced close sync between their interceptors, radar and electronic jamming systems.
It also exposed a major vulnerability: In the event of a coordinated missile offensive from several directions, Israel would be unable to extend total security both to its missile bases, airfields and strategic sites and also to its civilian population. The Israeli Air force is not capable of knocking out at once all five potential sources of missile attacks.
This means that if the Israel air force first targeted Iran, Syria and Hizballah would be free to provide Iran with active support by sending their missiles and rockets flying into Israel from its northern borders before their bases can be seriously impaired in an Israeli counter-attack. This gap in Israel’s defenses leaves large parts of Israel open to attack – and not just the northern region which was blasted by Hizballah in 2006. Iran has provided its Lebanese proxy with upgraded rockets for reaching further south to Israel’s central urban heartland of Greater Tel Aviv.
Defense minister Ehud Barak had this expanded peril in the mind when he said Wednesday, Nov. 25, that
Hizballah’s next attack would expose all of Lebanon, not just the south, to Israel counter-strikes. He said this time unlike in 2006, the Lebanese government would be held responsible, given that the Iran-backed Shiite group had scattered its missile bases across the country.
Barak was flashing signals to the Lebanese and Syrian governments – as well as the Palestinian Hamas in Gaza – that they risked their countries being totally devastated if they opted to retaliate on Iran’s behalf for an Israeli strike on the Islamic republic nuclear installations.
He also left the door open to possible pre-emptive Israeli strikes to demolish the missiles Syria, Hizballah and the Hamas have been steadily stockpiling.
The next day, Thursday, Nov. 26, deputy defense minister Mattan Vilnai promised to present the government with a complete missile defense program for the population within two weeks. He said there was no way the state could provide enough shelters for everyone, so his plan would provide for the rapid fortification of residential buildings and the enforcement of walls in apartments and stair wells. The ministry had learned from the Juniper Cobra that in the short time available before a possible military confrontation, this was the fastest and safest way to make sure that most people stayed put in an emergency and did not go wandering across the country and getting in the way of military operations.
All three statements by the Air Force commander, the defense minister and his deputy followed came in quick succession in the space of a week, during which civil defense measures and siren alerts were tested in different parts of Israel.

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