'We could destroy parts of Lebanon to stop rockets'

Former Mossad chief Yatom says rockets from Lebanon, Gaza Strip "can cover all of Israel and that is the main problem."

August 13, 2012 14:47
2 minute read.
Rockets fired from Gaza

Rockets from Gaza 370(r). (photo credit: Nikola Solic / Reuters)


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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 airports.

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.

While 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 Gaza.

Those rockets, he said, could “cover all of Israel, and that is the main problem.”

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.”

Meanwhile, Foreign 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.

Clearly 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 asked.

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.”

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