ANALYSIS: Is Israel Preparing for War With Iran?
Iran’s top generals warn Israel and the US of its new and dangerous approach to war
The Israeli security cabinet met for the first time in two months on Sunday for an emergency meeting on the increasing Iranian threat to the Jewish state.
The meeting took place after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a speech for the newly inaugurated Knesset, warned that Israel is facing a “huge security challenge” that is increasing every week.
The caretaker PM added that his words should be taken seriously and that he did not just want to scare the public and the media out of political considerations.
Netanyahu then made it clear he was talking about the Iranian threat to Israel and recalled the recent threats against Israel by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
“Anyone who knows the situation knows that Iran is getting stronger and is attacking around the world, saying clearly, ‘Israel will disappear’,” the Prime Minister said.
Gabi Ashkenazi, a former chief of staff of the IDF and now a member of the Blue and White party who was appointed last week as chairman of the Knesset Committee for Foreign Affairs and Defense later seemed to agree with Netanyahu’s statement.
He said last Thursday that Israel is confronted with “many security challenges” while adding that some of them are not visible to the public.
Avigdor Liberman, a former defense minister and leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, even spoke of a “national emergency” and urged Netanyahu’s Likud party and Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White Party, to form a national unity government now.
Israel is currently facing “security threats from south, north and further away,” Liberman said on Saturday, adding that this is not the time for political games while he urged other party leaders to set aside their egos.
The Yisrael Beiteinu leader also seemed to allude to a repeat of the Yom Kippur war scenario when various Arab armies carried out an almost fatal surprise attack on Israel.
Concerns in Israel about an Iranian attack have only increased after the IRGC carried out a carefully planned attack on vital oil installations in Saudi Arabia last September.
That attack was carried out with a swarm of attack-drones (UAVs) and cruise missiles which Iran developed with the help of North Korea.
The attack on Saudi Arabia showed that the billions of dollars that the Kingdom spent on defense, and in particular on air defenses didn’t affect the capabilities of the IRGC.
Israeli government officials are now warning that Israel’s air defenses are insufficient as well to withstand a large-scale attack with UAVs and missiles.
One of them spoke to the Al-Monitor news site and suggested that the various Israeli anti-missile shields and other air defenses could not be effective enough to prevent the Iranians from causing substantial damage to vital infrastructure in Israel.
Israel is in the possession of several anti-missile shields.
The Iron Dome shield is often used because both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have a large number of short-range missiles.
Then there is David’s Sling which is designed for downing medium-range missiles but has been used only once so far.
Israel also has the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 two anti-missile systems which have the ability to intercept long-range and even intercontinental missiles as well as the capacity of removing satellites from space (Arrow 3).
Finally, Israel also has the Patriot system that downed an Iranian rocket in May 2018 above the city of Safed in the north of the country but which proved to be ineffective during the first Gulf War in 1991 when Saudi Arabia was attacked by Iraqi Scud rockets.
The problem with these missile defense systems is that in the event that Iran and its proxies are going to use swarm tactics in a future missile war with Israel, they will fail to down every incoming rocket. Islamic Jihad proved that earlier in November 2018 when it fired rocket barrages at the Israeli cities around Gaza and Hamas did the same during the third Gaza War in 2014.
The use of anti-missile systems is also very expensive when compared to the price of the crude rockets which the Iranian proxies use and could disrupt the Israeli economy in a long-term conflict.
It is for this reason that some defense experts in Israel are now calling for the renewed development of the Iron Beam laser cannon which can also be used against incoming rockets.
Commentators in Israel think Iran could now be preparing for an all-out war against Israel after the regime in Tehran claimed Israel and Saudi Arabia tried to assassinate the commander of the Quds Force of the IRGC, Qassem Soleimani.
Soleimani is the architect of Iran’s imperialist policy and oversaw almost every major battle in the wars that have been raging in Iraq and Syria since 2011 and was responsible for building a broad coalition of terrorist groups against Israel.
The Iranian general is generally regarded as a strategic genius and was also responsible for the recent rapprochement between Palestinian terror movements in Gaza and Iran.
Iranian media reported last week that a terrorist cell had been arrested which detonated a huge bomb in a mosque named for Soleimani’s father on the first anniversary of his death.
Prime Minister Netanyahu recently warned Soleimani that he could become a target and claimed that Israel knows where he is and what he’s doing.
Soleimani, in turn, last year warned Israel and the United States last year that Iran has become a world leader in asymmetrical warfare.
The latter is undoubtedly true and this fact compensates for the weakness of the Iranian army which has mostly outdated weapons and combat aircraft at it’s disposal.
In terms of UAV and missile development, however, Iran is a very progressive military force as the recent attack on Saudi Arabia and the shooting of an expensive American UAV over the Persian Gulf showed.
Hossein Salami, the new commander of the IRGC last week claimed that “the Zionist regime no longer poses a threat” and warned Israel that in “any new war will erase the (Zionist) regime from the political geography of the world.”