Even though, according to foreign sources, Israel acquired international expertise in striking nuclear reactors in Iraq and in Syria and possesses more accumulated operational and intelligence know-how than any other state, one must realize that Iran is a whole other story.
For more than a decade, Iran had been preparing for this day – fortifying its reactors (which are built deep underground as it is) and developing a dense aerial defense system that would make it hard for Air Force jets to return from the mission without being hit. Moreover, Iran’s outdated Air Force is large and skilled enough to cause our aircraft trouble.
The strike, should it be executed, would have to comprise many fighter jets, of all models possessed by the Israeli Air Force. According to all estimates, the probability that such aerial infiltration would go undetected is marginal, and the working assumption is that a significant number of aircraft will not be returning to their base safely; we shall then have to contend not with one abducted soldier in Gaza, but rather, with 10 pilots in Iranian captivity.
This does not mean that the military option should be completely eliminated, yet it must come as a last resort, when we truly feel the sword against our throat. It won’t be a simple mission.
The great missile threat
Iran built up significant capabilities on Israel’s north and south precisely for this moment, the “second strike.” This time, the price will be heavy. Only this past week we saw the implications of a limited barrage of 30 Grad rockets; now imagine Islamic Jihad and Hamas firing hundreds of rockets a day, with Hezbollah – which since the Second Lebanon War boosted its arsenal – adding significant firepower from the north. This is Israel’s main problem.
And we haven’t even mentioned the uncertain benefit of such operation, as according to all estimates even if an Iran strike proves successful it would hinder the project by three of four years only.
Iran is not only an Israeli problem. The Americans and Europeans fear Tehran’s nukes no less than we do. Away from the limelight this issue should continue to be addressed, and we can assume that this is indeed what’s happening, while at the same time we should engage in dialogue with the world.
During Meir Dagan’s tenure as Mossad chief, foreign sources reported that Israel is capable of hindering Tehran’s nuclear program, and there is no reason not to believe Dagan when he tries to stop the next adventure with all his might.
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