Iran and nuclear weapons - Should we be afraid February 17, 2012

Recently, the words Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons have been heard more and more frequently from the media and security experts.  This week, just a short while before the start of the Shabbat here in Jerusalem, I found myself sitting at my desk, putting into words the things that are on my mind and in my heart.

I think that the main thing that disturbs me is that in Israel, not enough is being done to prepare for the days that are to come or the days that come after.   The feeling prevalent amongst many people in Israel seems to be that here in Israel, there are enough bomb shelter, enough gas masks for all of Israel's population and that is all we need in order to be prepared for when we are attacked or war breaks out.

Every day, we hear more arguments, more discussions on what is the appropriate response to the Iranian threat and to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.  We also hear repeatedly from Iran, whose military capabilities are well known to us, outbursts and threats against their "most hated enemy" or, as they call the State of Israel, "the Zionist state.   This seemingly endless saga with Iran promotes many different opinions which are raised by the media and opened for public debate.  However, one question that I have not yet heard asked is: Can Israel really attack Iran?  Even more important - Is Israel ready for a nuclear war?

How should we react and deal with Iran's agents in the region?  What about the Hezbollah and the Hamas?  In my opinion, Syria, in its present state of turmoil, could well use an attack on Israel to divert attention from its internal affairs.  At this moment, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Hamas in Gaza, have more than 60,000 rockets and mortars whose purpose isn't just to hurt Israel's military forces, but also to deal a hard blow to Israel's civilians, its schools, kindergartens, hospitals, residential neighborhoods and centers.

Is Israel prepared for such a huge barrage of rockets falling on its towns, cities and villages from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip?  We already have the bitter experience of hundreds of suicide attacks and we are only too well aware that the terrorists are not afraid of mounting more such attacks at Israel's civilian population.  Past experience has shown us that they are also not afraid of launching attacks from Lebanon or Gaza - despite the consequences they face!

The threats from the North and the South, are an "added extra" to the very real threat we face from Iran.  Neither should we forget that Iran has long range missiles capable of carrying an explosive, a chemical or a biological warhead  that can reach almost every point within Israel.

Most people have no idea of the size of the medical relief forces or the fire and rescue services that will be needed in the event of such an attack.  Not only are most of us not yet ready to accept the reality of the situation, my big fear is that we will realize the need when it is far too late!

Another point that I wish to bring up is the recent "mending of the bridges" between Iran and the new regime in Egypt.  I feel that it is not an exaggeration or too farfetched to say that if Iran gets nuclear weapons capability - so too will Egypt!  And the results of a nuclear capable Egypt are too horrible to contemplate!

Let us suppose that Israel does attack Iran, our bombers will fly to Iran and attack its nuclear facilities.  Iran' facilities are well defended by batteries of Russian ground to air missiles - so we can expect with almost 100% certainty that many of our aircraft will be destroyed making it hardest and most expensive in terms of human losses aerial attack ever made by Israel.   And the question that has to be asked is, how effective will the attack be - even if Israel uses the most advanced deep penetration bombs - since most of Iran's bunkers are 25 meters deep underground.

Once again, I go back to my starting point.  Those aircraft that do succeeded in returning to Israel, will almost certainly find a different country from the one they left as we can be certain that Iran will have launched an arsenal of Shihab 3 long range, ground to ground missiles targeted at Israel cities.   It is not without reason that many of Israel's leading security experts and those in charge of security organizations, fear and warn of an Iranian attack.  But the question that also has to be asked is: what is preferable?  A bombed and devastated nation hated by the Arab world and condemned by Europe?  A much weakened nation that, whilst it will win the war, will have suffered immense damage, will be exhausted and will need decades to recover?  Or would it be better if Israel were to be attacked by nuclear weapons launched from around the Middle East and totally destroyed.  I think that the answer is clear!

According to a number of experts with whom we have spoken, there is also a concern that Israel will not be able to destroy all of Iran's nuclear facilities.  Even the United States would not be able to do this in just one attack.  But all are off the same opinion: that Iran must not be allowed to obtain a nuclear capability because, once they have it - they will not hesitate to use it!

If and when Iran is attacked by Israel, there is also an opinion that says Iran will send military units to Lebanon and Syria and that these forces will assist in an attack on the Golan Heights in an attempt to recapture it from Israel.  Israel, for its part, will have no recourse but to station massive numbers of troops on the Golan as well as additional forces that will enter Lebanon in order to take control of large areas to prevent attacks on Israel from them.

So perhaps, despite the fact that we are not giving the military option, we should try to think of other possibilities before we take military action.  Perhaps a change in the Iranian regime?  After all, the end of the Iranian extremist regime would result in a new regime that, whist still being extremist and hostile to Israel, would perhaps understand that if they choose to play with fire... they won't be there anymore!  This is a very clear message that the world will not tolerate extremist regimes that threaten the world!

Israel is a strong nation.  The Jewish people have stood by its side over the generations, facing all those who would destroy us.  Over the years we have learned much about our enemies capabilities, this has enabled us to improve our defensive systems that protect our civilian population.   For me, the most important lesson I have learned over the years is that we must be prepared in advance for all eventualities, for all scenarios - for today's scenario is tomorrows reality!   There is enough time between wars to learn, to study mistakes and prepare - this is what the State of Israel and her friends should be doing today.  We need to prepare for the next war and not sit back comfortably, waiting for the "peace talks" to solve the Iranian problem.  If this is the attitude we adopt, all we are doing is postponing the inevitable whilst Iran comes closer, day by day, faster and faster, to the darkness of nuclear weapons!

I am worried and so should you……

Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem

Adi Zahavi, EVP

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