Don’t be stupid, Mahmoud!

Don't be stupid, Mahmoud.

Don't be stupid, Mahmoud.

News item:

A nationwide civil-defense exercise called “Turning Point 5” started Sunday. For the first time, the drill will simulate extensive damage to critical national infrastructure such as the water system and the electric grid.

During the weeklong drill, the Home Front Command, Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Administration, Israel Police and other emergency services will test their responses to a massive bombardment of missiles from Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Iran…

Estimates in the IDF are that up to 800 missiles and rockets a day could be fired into Israel in the event of a war fought on several fronts.

“No water or electricity means no production, and makes it impossible to run the country,” a defense official said. “For this reason we need to know what are the most important facilities that we need to continue working, and what needs to keep on receiving water and electricity, and how to make that happen.”

Whenever there was talk of an attack on Iran, we saw descriptions of the terrible retaliation that Iran would wreak on Israel and the US (both would be targets regardless of which one provoked the fearsome wrath of that nation).

Now Israeli officials are working on the assumption that an attack on their country by Iran and its proxies is inevitable. There is a great deal of talk about death and destruction in Israel from Iranian and Iranian-sponsored missiles.

What is not talked about is the degree and nature of Israeli retaliation.

Israel is a small country and the rhetoric from Iran has called for its annihilation. It must be taken seriously.

When the missiles start to fly, the first priority will be to take out their sources, primarily in Lebanon, secondarily in Gaza, and perhaps also in Syria. You can be sure that the planners in the kiriya have been staying up nights developing tactics and targets to do this. During the 2006 war, Israel was not able to stop the short-range rockets, although it did neutralize most or all of the longer-range missiles in Hizballah’s hands. This time, I expect that the response will be more effective.

But Israel needs to do far more than just defend itself. When you are attacked over and over by the same people, your response ultimately has to be to end the threat. In previous wars, Israel has always either chosen not to do so or has been held back by threats from the US (and in some cases the then-Soviet Union).

The risk today is even greater than in the past and the response will need to be commensurate. The kind of rocket barrage that they are talking about, even if it is stopped after a few days, will cross red lines. Israel will have no choice, despite the orders coming from Washington, but to end the threat.

For one thing, this will mean directly targeting enemy leaders. The top officials of Hamas and Hizballah should not expect to survive the war. If missiles are fired from Syria, then the same goes for that regime.

Former Mossad head Meir Dagan has warned against a preemptive attack on Iran. He should know. But if Iran attacks Israel, even if primarily by proxy, there’s nothing to lose. Once the rockets are stopped, the IDF can turn its attention to “cutting the head off the snake” as Saudi King Abdullah is reported to have said.

It is not unthinkable that Israel will use weapons that have never been used before. Remember, the damage that will be done to Israel in the initial attack will probably be quite severe. As I said, red lines will be crossed. Retaliation will be massive.

The Palestinian Arabs should understand (but they won’t) that their interests would be best served by staying out of this conflict.

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One Response to “Don’t be stupid, Mahmoud!”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    One question which might be asked is ‘How much damage can we inflict by conventional means alone?’ i.e. Isn’t it possible that conventional means are not enough for real deterrence? We see how again and again ‘airpower alone ‘ using conventional means fails to ‘defeat’ the enemy force on the ground.
    What I am saying is that should , God forbid, thousands of missiles hit Israel and tremendous toll taken in lives and in infrastructure conventional means alone will not be sufficient retaliation or deterrence.
    But then we get to an even harder level of question. For if we use non- conventional means this will give our enemies the ‘basis’ for a campaign which might lose us our allies in the West, demonize us and delegitimize us completely.
    This raises another preliminary question. If we know our enemies have the means to hit us with thousands of missiles , doesn’t it make sense to ‘take them out’ before they start? But here of course we subject ourselves to total world condemnation and delegitimization.
    I pray our military planners have a far better and clearer idea of what to do than I do.