By Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom—
Trigger warning: A missile attack that would interfere with Israel’s defenses and be difficult for the country to recover from is an extreme scenario, but one that Brig. Gen. (res.) Udi Dekel lays out in detail, without any whitewashing, in a report by the Institute of National Security Studies.
Until now, the threat of a massive missile attack and widespread damage to the Israeli home front was something that the public and media barely discussed. But starting in 2020 and now, at the start of 2021, Dekel and the INSS rank it high on the list of current threats. While the nuclear threat from Iran is still higher, in the short-term, a war could break out to our north and east against a coalition led by Iran in which Hezbollah, Syria, pro-Iranian militias and other players would attack us from western Iraq. Dekel, whose last job in the IDF was head of the strategy division in the General Staff’s planning department, calls this possibility “definitely relevant” and describes the arsenal that would be unleashed on us if it were to come to pass.
“Among other things: missiles and drones from Syria and Lebanon , ballistic missiles and cruise missile from Iran and Iraq,” he says, and in a secondary scenario, “rockets, attack drones, and mortars from the Gaza Strip.”
The concern, he says, is that “these coordinated forces will exploit the military capabilities they have to launch surprise missiles barrages and slews of drones in an attempt to take out many targets inside Israel.”
The choice targets of an attack on Israel are what the report calls “high-value strategic targets.” This means, “air defense batteries, the refineries in Haifa, power stations, and desalination plans, warehouses containing toxic materials, gas infrastructure, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Knesset, the General Staff’s building, military command headquarters, air force bases, airports, seaports, army bases, the IDF’s Kirya base, missile interceptor systems…”
“If the enemy succeeds in firing extensive barrages at one time from different launching locations,” Dekel says, noting that this is not implausible, “Israel’s air defenses could be expected to have difficulty handling the threat. The result will be destruction, and in certain circumstances widespread casualties in population centers. This describes the threat of a massive attack on the primary cities and strategic sites using precision missiles, which is something Israel has never experienced,” he says.
‘No effective response’
The INSS’s extreme scenario was published a few days after the Defense Ministry announced that it was developing the Arrow 4 system in conjunction with the US, a system designed to be able to cope with ballistic missiles fired from Iran, among other things. Only recently did former IDF Ombudsman Maj. Gen. (res.) Yitzhik Brik define Israel as “the most threatened country in the world, on which hundreds of thousands of missiles are trained throughout the Middle East.”
Brik thinks that “Israel has no appropriate solution for this threat, either offensive or defensive.” But Brik is known for being a near-constant opposition voice to the defense and security establishment, whereas the threat scenario that comprises an entire chapter in the INSS report, was written by an official who generally takes care not to clash with that same establishment.
Anyone who reads Dekel’s chapter will notice the wide discrepancy between the growing missile threat to Israel’s security and how nonchalant the general public is about it. Dekel and the institute define the Israeli home front as “a critical weak point in the country’s ability to handle a lengthy war.”
The report states that “Israel invests in preparing the home front, but not enough, and especially not in preparing for what is described as the extreme scenario, which is based on trends that have existed for some time on the map of regional threats. The home front’s ability to deal with damage and numerous wounded demands unity among the people and a sense of justice and trust in a responsible government, which first and foremost takes care of Israel’s future.”
In a conversation with Israel Hayom last week, Dekel said that the public was not aware of the heavy price that could have to be paid if the “extreme scenario” came to pass.
“Seventy percent of the public support between-war actions, even if they come at a cost of a full-scale war,” he says. Currently, the “between-war” mainly entails strikes on Iranian targets in Syria. Continue Reading….