The evidence that Israel is ill-prepared for war suggests to some observers that its repeated threats to attack Iran might be no more than bluster.
Even so, one shouldn’t assume that Israel’s military planners necessarily think too much about civil defense. At the beginning of the 2006 war against Lebanon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt Gen Dan Halutz seemed to be more concerned about the value of his stock portfolio than the damage that Hezbollah’s rockets might cause.
Reuters reports: Israel’s civil defenses are not ready to protect the population in a missile war, an opposition lawmaker said on Monday, fuelling debate about the feasibility of an attack on Iran’s nuclear program.
Almost one in four Israelis lack access to bomb shelters, whether communal or reinforced rooms in private homes, said Zeev Bielski, chairman of a parliamentary panel on Israel’s home defense preparations.
“Are we prepared for a war? No,” he told Reuters. “Things are moving too slowly and we are wasting very precious time.”
Such shelters could be vital if Israel were to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and Tehran struck back, either directly or through its allies on the borders of the Jewish state.
Israel says 100,000 rockets and missiles are pointed at it, many of these held by Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, although they may decide to sit out any war between Israel and Iran.
The Civil Defense Ministry, which was set up after Israel suffered thousands of rocket strikes in the 2006 Lebanon war, confirmed Bielski’s data while seeking to play down his alarm.
“Our position remains that if everyone does what they are expected to do during an emergency, the situation will be tenable,” one ministry official said.
That appeared to reinforce remarks in November by Defense Minister Ehud Barak that, should Iran retaliate for an attack with missile salvoes against Israel, it could inflict fewer than 500 fatalities “if everyone stays in their homes”.
Stay at home? And for how long is that defense strategy meant to endure?