Israeli Defense Official Highlights Israel’s Inadequacies in Face of Iranian Threat
Ephraim Sneh handed the post of deputy defense minister to his successor, Ret. Gen. Matan Vilnai, this week with some disturbing charges against the government he was quitting.
Israel is not prepared to handle threats from Iran [missiles and potentially nuclear weapons] because the government headed by Ehud Olmert is holding back form its armed forces the requisite funding. He maintained that international economic sanctions have failed to deflect Iran from its quest for the ultimate threat – a failure which has put the military option on the table.
“We need more funds than we receive currently to deal with this threat,” he said in a radio interview Monday, July 2, as he handed the post over to an appointee of new defense minister Ehud Barak.
Sneh dismissed the popular notion that Israel and the United States were closely coordinated militarily regarding Iran. “There is no coordination on an operational level between the Israel and US militaries on Iran,” he said. Bush has said that all options, including military action, remain on the table. But, said Sneh, “If sanctions had been adopted more firmly and quickly, we may not have needed to talk about other options.”
This assertion made him the first Israeli official to outspokenly declare that international sanctions were not working.
debkafile‘s military sources note Sneh touched on additional disturbing vulnerabilities:
1. Government under-funding extends to military preparations for war with Syria, Hizballah and the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip as well as for a military option contingency against a menacing Iran.
2. The home front’s defenses are in a state of palpable neglect one year after Hizballah’s 34-day Katyusha rocket blitz against northern Israel. The shortage of bomb shelters is acute not only in the north but also in central Israeli cities within range of Syrian and Iranian missiles. Sneh poses the question: If the government is incapable of providing proper shelters for the narrow war front of civilians facing the Gaza Strip, what hope is there for the population to withstand major attacks from Syria – let alone Iran?
Israel’s lackadaisical approach to home front security stands in stark contrast to the measures pursued by Iran.
A Western military source told debkafile that the Revolutionary Guards and army are pouring out hefty sums of national resources in preparing the country for a regional war involving the US and Israel.
3. The prime minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesmen are working hard to convey the impression that Israel and the United States are militarily coordinated with regard to Iran. The departing minister refutes this assumption as a fallacy and the cause of Israel’s dangerous over-reliance on Washington instead of its own military.
Sneh has performed the valuable function of clearing the air of some the misapprehensions disseminated in recent weeks on the outcome of Olmert’s White House talks with President George W. Bush, exchanges between foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rich and transport minister Shaul Mofaz’s strategic dialogue with US officials in Washington.
The ministers and their spokesmen have been laying on thick assurances that there is no cause for concern because the problem of Iran’s nuclear and missile threat is taken care of by the deepening military cooperation between Israel and the United States.
This false impression is filtering down to the IDF’s officers with some influence on the high command’s decision-making processes. In those circles, the prevailing scenario for the coming war is grim enough: a flare-up on three fronts – Syria, Lebanon and Gaza – but no direct attack from Iran.
But debkafile‘s military experts warn that nothing is guaranteed. Iran may lead the group of allies with a missile barrage against Israel, to be followed then by Syria, Hizballah and Hamas, one by one.
The departing defense minister has so far provided the only clear voice revealing the country’s security shortcomings. It rises above the official claque asserting that all the lessons of the Second Lebanon War have been applied and all the faults corrected.