The Israeli response to the rocket threat still lags behind progress being made by Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups, according to a report published this week by Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
Brig. Gen. (res.) Meir Elran, head of the institute’s Homeland Security Program, told Haaretz that Israel hasn't closed the gaps.
According to Elran, in a war that could last a month, as many as 1,500 short- to mid-range rockets might be launched at the north alone each day. And Israel would have to prepare for a war on two fronts – Lebanon and Gaza.
Elran says Israel has greatly improved preparedness in recent years both at Home Front Command and with its five Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries. But he says budgetary problems have slowed the acquisition process.
“Israel has still not made a system-wide decision to increase its investment in defensive measures, even at the expense of offensive capabilities. It still seeks to depend on American money. Israel will purchase a maximum of 10 batteries, when it needs double that number,” Elran said.
“If the IDF had invested even 5 percent of the resources in defense that it invested in offense, we would be in a different place today," he added.
“It’s no secret that if war breaks out, the IDF will want to deploy the batteries near air force bases so planes can take off and land under rocket fire, and near national infrastructure. In the current state of affairs, we don’t have enough missile batteries to protect population centers.”
According to Elran, another weak point is the rate of Israel’s acquisition of protective kits against chemical attacks. “If the state thinks the threat is tangible, it should complete the protection of the whole population,” Elran said, referring to reports that only 60 percent of Israelis have kits. “If it doesn’t, that’s a sign it doesn't believe that the threat is real.”
Elran added that the fact the government has not yet decided on a division of responsibilities on the home front shows “mistaken thinking by the Israeli leadership about the threat to the civilian population.”
On Wednesday, the Institute is holding its annual conference on the home front's preparedness.
Home Front Minister Gilad Erdan, who will address the conference, has been fighting to expand his office's responsibilities but has met opposition from Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to decide on the issue, a decision that may be postponed.
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