The increasingly public discussion over a possible attack on Iran shifted
slightly on Monday from reports of rifts within Israel’s leadership, and deep
divisions with the US, to how Israel might destroy parts of Lebanon and Gaza if
faced with a barrage of rockets from Hezbollah and Hamas.
One of the most
oft-mentioned scenarios is that if Israel were to attack Iran, Tehran would
respond not only by sending long-range missiles toward the Jewish state, but
also by directing Hezbollah and Hamas to rain tens of thousands of missiles down
on the country.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, speaking to Israel Radio,
said that Iran did not have an “unlimited number of missiles,” and that it was
not as if Israel could not stop massive rocket fire within 24 hours by attacking
the infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza and paralyzing daily life there. He
mentioned targets such as power plants, oil refineries and
Former Mossad head Danny Yatom echoed the idea, saying Israel
may need to destroy parts of Lebanon and Gaza if Hezbollah and Hamas acted at
Iran’s behest and launched a massive rocket attack.
Yatom warned against
presenting an apocalyptic picture of how the Islamic Republic would respond if
Israel took military action against its nuclear program.
acknowledging that Iran had a few hundred missiles that could reach Israel, and
that the price would be horrible if those missiles were equipped with either
nuclear or chemical warheads, Yatom said the central concern was the tens of
thousands of rockets in Hezbollah and Hamas storehouses in Lebanon and
Those rockets, he said, could “cover all of Israel, and that is the
Yatom said that the lesson Israel learned from the 2006
Second Lebanon War, when Hezbollah fired hundreds of rockets on the North, was
that “we will have to stop the firing of missiles, both from the North and the
South, as quickly as possible.”
To do this, he said, Israel would have to
“act with great force against infrastructure in Lebanon and Gaza, and it is
possible that the price that Lebanon and Gaza will pay will be horrible. We are
liable to destroy, or likely to destroy, parts of Lebanon and parts of Gaza, so
that our citizens will not suffer and be killed.”
Minister Avigdor Liberman picked up and amplified a theme first introduced last
month by Defense Minister Ehud Barak: that the lesson Israel is taking away from
the blood-letting in Syria is that the international community cannot be relied
upon to intervene when needed.
“What is happening in Syria,
unfortunately, is the failure of the international community to stop violence,
the spilling of blood and the killing of civilians,” he said.
hinting at the situation in Iran, Liberman said Syria was a test-case for the
reliability of the international community.
“There is a basic question
here. Can we, as people, as different, small countries, depend on the
international community, with all the promises of security and guarantees?” he
Liberman said that there was much talk about the situation in
Syria in the UN Security Council, the EU and other forums. “What we did not see
is any real ability to stop the mass slaughter of human beings,” he said, adding
that this raises “many difficult questions.”