The rocket hunters - best in the world

Israel's intelligence services have minimized the effects of Ahmadinejad's death machine.

Israel is lucky this war was forced on it in summer 2006. It made it possible for us to learn - almost too late - about the terrible death trap being prepared in Lebanon, with almost Nazi precision, against the Jewish state. Iran, fueled by Islamofascism's uncompromising hatred of Israel, set the trap via Syria. It's a good thing we woke up in time, before Iran could arm itself with nuclear weapons. Israel is lucky, too, to have such good intelligence services and the best pilots in the world, a combination that has minimized the inevitable damage Ahmadinejad's death machine has caused Israelis and their property. There is no greater lie than the claim propagated by some Israeli journalists, eager irresponsible egomaniacs, that Israeli intelligence lacked sufficient information about Hizbullah's and Iran's preparations. Just the opposite. Israel's intelligence community has provided the finest intelligence information of the last few years. The question - if there is one - is what the various governments, and the IDF's top command, did with that information. CERTAINLY the air force was prepared for the war both by its previous commander, current Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, and its current chief, Gen. Eliezer Shkedi, and it has made the best of that excellent intelligence since the war's onset. Right at the start IAF pilots destroyed a crucial Hizbullah arsenal of long-range missiles capable of reaching distances of 200-250 km - one of Nasrallah's promised "surprises," gifted by Iran in order to threaten areas in Israel "beyond Haifa" and as far as the greater Tel Aviv area. This danger was neutralized in the first half-hour of the war. But the dangers are still out there. Iranian trainers integrated into the Hizbullah forces may yet try to fire long-range missiles from the launchers they retain before they too are bombed from the air. The vast system of tunnels Hizbullah dug from south Lebanon into Israeli territory has yet to be uncovered - another reason why it is important to control a buffer zone of two or three kilometers along the border. The amazing hunt for rocket launchers is still going on, with unprecedented success, day and night and in all weather conditions. Never have IAF bombers had such sophisticated radar systems for precision bombing. IAF PILOTS are, of course, not always successful in destroying their targets. The intelligence information flows in real time, sometimes in less than a minute, but the authorization to attack and destroy is often delayed too long, and the target disappears. Or, as happened in Bint Jbail during the heavy fighting, an aerial strike was postponed for a humanitarian reason: a Lebanese with American citizenship managed to contact the American authorities to ask them to intervene with Israel so it would not bomb the village from the air until his family could be safely evacuated. Israel naturally complied. The supreme importance Iran attributes to the outcome of the war in Lebanon is what is causing it to urge Syria to try to supply weapons of every kind to Hizbullah - on trucks making their way secretly along "military roads," those numerous trails leading from Syria across its border with Lebanon. It may be assumed that the IAF has prepared an extensive and detailed bombing timetable for the moment Israel's foolish agreement to suspend aerial attacks on Lebanon for 48 hours ends. ANOTHER important role for the IAF is to support the Israeli ground forces moving northward in the direction of the Litani River, in order to make sure to crush Hizbullah at least in that area of south Lebanon, from the border with Israel to the Litani River. The fighters of Israel's infantry units are now being sent to war, reminding us of their importance to Israel's security for many years to come. Neglecting them has been a colossal mistake. The cutbacks in their training exercises and the closing down of reserve units must stop. The outcome of this war will be a measure of the United States' standing in the Middle East. George Bush understands this well, which is why, besides his basic friendship for Israel, he is trying to enable Israel to achieve as much as possible on the battlefield. It was unpleasant for Defense Minister Amir Peretz to hear Secretary Condoleezza Rice hint this week in Jerusalem that she was disappointed with the IDF's achievements because the current situation has not yet enabled the US to broker an American settlement for a cease-fire in Lebanon. The administration knows that it is not only Iran trying to cause this type of initiative to fail. Russian President Vladimir Putin is craftily exploiting anything he can to undermine America's standing in the Middle East so Russia can take its place. That is how the abduction of Israeli soldiers and this war in Lebanon, which the current government of Israel was dragged into against its will, has turned into a major acid test in the struggle between Islamofascism - which is trying to use the Kremlin to its own ends - and the American president's campaign for democratization and peace in the Middle East. An Israeli victory could prevent a third world war.