Chatter in the U.S. and Israel over a possible attack by the Israeli military on Iran shifted this week following reports of factionalism within the Jewish state’s leadership and divisions in the U.S. over the appropriate response to Iran’s intransigence over its nuclear weaponization program. Should Israel attack Iran, so goes one possible scenario, the Islamic Republic could retaliate by instructing its Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist allies to send thousands of missiles into Israel.
Speaking in a radio interview in Israel, Vice Premier Silvan Shalom gave assurances that Iran does not have an “unlimited number of missiles.” He averred that Israel can stop massive rocket barrages within 24 hours by attacking the infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza, thus bringing daily life there to a standstill. Possible targets include, he said, power plants, oil refineries and airports.
A former head of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, reiterated Shalom’s conjecture as to possible targets in Gaza and the Lebanon. Danny Yatom said that parts of those two regions will be destroyed if Hamas and Hezbollah decide to act as Iran’s proxies in a strike against the Jewish state. While Yatom warned against fears of annihilation at the hands of Iran and its terrorist allies, he di that Iran does have hundreds of missiles that could reach Israel. The price exacted by these missiles, said Yatom, would be horrific if they are equipped with nuclear or chemical/biological warheads. The central concern now is over the tens of thousands of rockets in the possession of Hamas and Hezbollah, said Yatom. The rockets, he said, could “cover all of Israel, and that is the main problem.”
During the Second Lebanon War of 2006, Hezbollah fired hundreds of missiles into Israel’s northern border region. Israel learned, said Yatom, that “we will have to stop the firing of missiles, both from the North and the South, as quickly as possible.” Israel, then, will have to “act with great force against infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza, and it is possible that the price that Lebanon and Gaza will pay will be horrible. We are liable to destroy, or likely to destroy, parts of Lebanon and parts of Gaza, so that our citizens will not suffer and be killed.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said this week that Israel has learned an important lesson during the civil war that has rocked Syria over the last year. Liberman pointed out that Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the take-away is that such bloodshed has not moved the international community to intervene. “What is happening in Syria, unfortunately, is the failure of the international community to stop violence, the spilling of blood and the killing of civilians,” he said. Syria’s agony offers an example of the impotence of the international community. Liberman asked, “There is a basic question here. Can we, as people, as different, small countries, depend on the international community, with all the promises of security and guarantees?”
Liberman said that while there has been a great deal of palaver over the killing in Syria at the UN Security Council, the EU and other for a, “What we did not see is any real ability to stop the mass slaughter of human beings.” This apparent impotence raises “many difficult questions.”