The Associated Press reports: Despite its confident saber-rattling, Israel’s concern is growing that the country is vulnerable to a devastating counterstrike if it attacks Iran’s nuclear program.
An announcement this week that a mobile rocket-defense system will soon be built just outside Tel Aviv, where Israel’s sprawling military headquarters sits smack in the middle of office towers, museums, night spots and hotels, caused some jitters. Israeli officials cite intelligence reports that Tel Aviv would be a main target of any attack.
Increasingly, the debate in Israel is turning to whether a strike can do enough damage to the Iranian program to be worth the risks. Experts believe that any attack would at best set back, but not cripple, the Iranians.
Skepticism about Israel’s ability to defend itself runs deep here. Israelis still remember Iraqi Scuds landing in the center of the country 20 years ago. In 2006, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia seemed able to rain rockets at will during a monthlong conflict with the Jewish state. A scathing government report issued months ago suggested the nation is still woefully unprepared.
In a questionably timed move, the Cabinet minister in charge of civil defense in recent days resigned to become the ambassador to faraway China.
The Iron Dome missile defense shield has frequently been touted as a vital element in Israel’s multilayered missile defense program, yet surprisingly a week ago it was reported that new batteries will not be deployed even though so far only three have been deployed while 14 are estimated to be needed to cover te whole country.
Hebrew daily “Yediot Ahronot” reports that the Ministry of Defense will stop procurements of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, due to cuts in the defense budget.
Ministry of Defense director general Udi Shani notified Iron Dome’s manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. that it will not procure another Iron Dome battery. The IDF currently operates three batteries, and the Ministry of Defense had planned to procure two more.
Shani notified his US counterparts of the decision, saying that it was due to budget constraints. A defense official said that US aid did not meet all the requirements, and that the Ministry of Defense will have to make up one third of the expenditure from its shekel budget.
An IDF source said, “The current budget sends the Army back to 2003, when the IDF trained less than in any year.” Last week, “Yediot Ahronot” reported that the IDF cancelled a division-level exercise and five brigade-level exercises.
Ministry of Defense said in response, “In the economic reality, the budget is insufficient to complete procurement of the batteries. This issue will be submitted to the cabinet shortly.”