Richard Silverstein 
Friday, March 30, 2012
Gareth Porter does some excellent reporting  during his current trip to Israel, where he’s meeting Israeli military and intelligence figures concerning a possible Israeli attack on Iran. He focuses on the lack of Israeli psychological preparation or awareness of the danger they face from an Iranian counter-strike after Israel’s pre-emptive attack.
Neve Gordon reported in Al Jazeera English  that Israel assassinated the leader of the Gaza PRC a few weeks ago in order to deliberately provoke a Gaza missile barrage. Bibi wanted to test the Iron Dome missile system in the expectation that its success would further reassure Israelis and his doubting cabinet members, who must vote to approve war, that Israel will remain protected from rockets in the event Iran is attacked. I have a Truthout story being publishing tomorrow that will cover more of this ground.
Porter notes that Iron Dome will not protect Israel from Iranian missiles. The Arrow system is designed to shoot down the medium and long-range projectiles that Iran would launch. An Israeli missile expert notes that in testing, the Arrow has achieved an 80% success rate (the rate would be lower in battlefield conditions). Iran has around 450 missiles capable of hitting Israel. That means that over 100 missiles would get through Israel’s protective shield. Even if we factor that some of the 450 might be destroyed before launching by Israeli aircraft and that some of the missiles will land harmlessly and miss their target, that still leaves a very significant number that will get through. These are not Qassams we’re talking about. These are missiles packed with lethal warheads that will kill many and cause huge amounts of damage.
The missile expert, Uzi Rubin, says that Iran has improved its accuracy to within “meters” of the target. That means virtually all of Israel’s major infrastructure including power generation, air and seaports, political command and control facilities (the Knesset), and military bases (and the Kirya) would be hit. Add to this, the fact that Hamas and Hezbollah rockets would likely be falling as well. Even with the success of Iron Dome, a significant number of these rockets would get through, adding even more damage. Rubin tellingly says:
”I’m asking my military friends how they feel about waging war without electricity.”
I’m wagering that the Iranian response would give Israelis the shock of a lifetime, putting it mildly. Thousands will die, and as Meir Dagan said, Israel will not be the same country physically or psychologically afterward. Nor has Israel ever had to fight a war under such circumstances. It has never really had an adversary (save in 1948 and possibly 1973) who could put up a real fight and even take the fight to Israel itself.
On a related note, the Israeli right-wing media is full of stories complaining about Mark Perry’s terrific Foreign Policy expose of Israel’s shady dealings in Azerbaijan, which have likely led to an agreement to use its airspace and airfield as part of the plan to attack Iran. These media outlets seem to be in high dudgeon (Dan Margalit in Yisrael HaYom says  the Americans are “shooting at Israel”) that the Obama administration is using Mark and others to relay its extreme discomfort and displeasure with Israel’s machination both in Azerbaijan and relating to a strike on Iran itself. The Jerusalem Post headline  reads:
U.S. Leaks on Iran Meant to Prevent Israeli Strike
The columnist kvetches about Perry’s report:
There was something off-putting about the whole tone of the piece, as if the bad guy in this story were not Iran, for trying to acquire nuclear weapons, but Israel…
These…stories are…fed by sources intent on sending a clear message: Do not attack.
Gee, whadaya know? The U.S. has the chutzpah to worry about Israel throwing a lit match onto the tinderbox that is the current Middle East, and there’s something “off-putting” about that. As if our job and the job of the rest of the world is simply to understand Israel’s motives and interests and then get out of the way.
I find it humorous that Israel’s prime minister and defense minister are entitled to leak like a sieve to Israeli and world media about their war plans and yet the U.S., chas v’chalilah, has a hidden agenda when it does the same. No one, after all is allowed to have hidden agendas except Israeli prime ministers intent on attacking their neighbors.