IDF Officials: Missile Attack on Israel Would Produce Less Than 300 Casualties

Senior defense official presents Israeli cabinet with assessment of number of people dead should Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas launch missiles at Israel; number is far lower than the one mentioned previously by Defense Minister Barak.

Israel Defense Forces officials told cabinet ministers on Monday that should Israel undergo a coordinated missile attack, there would be less than 300 Israeli casualties.

The number was mentioned by IDF officials during a discussion in Israel's security-diplomatic cabinet, Channel 10 reported on Monday, and is far lower than the number mentioned previously by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who reportedly said that a maximum of 500 Israelis would die in such an attack.

A Home Front Command drill, 2012.
Daniel Bar-On

During the meeting, a senior official in the Israel Air Force told the cabinet ministers that in the event of a coordinated missile attack on Israel's home front, missiles and rockets would be fired at Israel by the Syrian army, Hezbollah in Lebanon, terror organizations in Gaza, and most probably by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as well.

According to one of the cabinet ministers, the IAF believes that for three weeks, thousands of missiles and rockets would land in Israel, and the number of people dead would reach 300, as well as hundreds of people wounded and severe damage to property and infrastructure. The officer who presented the data before the ministers noted that the scenario is an assessment based on the situation in 2012, but could change in the future.

Despite that the subject of the discussion was not the possibility of war with Iran, such a coordinated terror attack on Israel is expected mostly in the event of an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The defense establishment is split regarding the dimensions of an Iranian attack.

Another argument surrounds the question whether Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas would join Iran and launch missiles toward Israel. According to some of the assessments in the intelligence community, the Iranian response would include aid from Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas, but other assessments suggest that these actors would be deterred by the Israeli retaliation against them and would not rush to aid Iran.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe that the Iranian response to an attack on its nuclear facilities would not necessarily bring about a coordinated attack on Israel. They both emphasize that in any case, the scenario in which Iran would have a nuclear bomb would be much more dangerous.