Opinion

Hezbollah and Iran’s Target: Dimona

The terrible price of the enemy’s first strike will be paid by Israel's civilians, tens of thousands of them

Israel Harel
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General view of the Israeli nuclear facility in the Negev Dest outside Dimona seen in this August 6, 2000 file photo. I
General view of the Israeli nuclear facility in the Negev Dest outside Dimona seen in this August 6, 2000 file photo. ICredit: REUTERS
Israel Harel

On the 11th anniversary of what Hezbollah sees as a “divine victory,” Hassan Nasrallah is marking targets again. No more Haifa, Safed and the bay. The target: Dimona. He has advanced missiles that can strike the nuclear reactor, and plenty of them. Iran provided them, with Israel’s de facto acceptance, and is about to set up a missile production facility in Lebanon.

We’ll swallow that too, as we always do, and Israelis will continue to be Tehran’s hostages. Iran and Hezbollah are one and the same. Meanwhile, Iran is establishing its stronghold in Syria as well, and the Revolutionary Guard has its eyes on the Syria-Jordan border. Israel responded with dispatching a high-raking defense delegation to Washington to express concern. This is the wacky administration we’re counting on.

In the past five years, said outgoing Israel Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the IAF carried out about 100 air strikes against weapons convoys intended for Hezbollah. Cold comfort, because we failed to prevent the smuggling of some 150,000 other missiles. Eshel and Amikam Norkin, who replaced him, promise that if Nasrallah makes good on his threat, we have the means to respond and defeat him.

But the first strike is the decisive one, and could cause thousands of civilian casualties and huge damage to defense and economic infrastructures. Israel must not put up with dramatic strategic changes – like the Revolutionary Guard on its borders in Syria, Lebanon, soon in Gaza and perhaps even in Jordan.

At this stage, presumably, no Iranian missile will be launched at Israel. Not because of our ministers’ threats (Naftali Bennett: “We’ll destroy Lebanon,”) or (Yisrael Katz: “We’ll send Lebanon back to the Stone Age”). Iran is in a race for regional hegemony – which Israel and the United States are not acting to stop – and launching missiles at Israel before completing the campaign could disrupt it. This, and not the so-called deterrence that Israel achieved in the failed Second Lebanon War, is the main reason for Hezbollah-Iran’s temporary restraint.

Even when Hezbollah-Iran launch the thousands of accumulated missiles toward Israel’s population centers, it is doubtful whether Israel’s government will decide to strike, even in response, at the civilian population – a privilege reserved only for its enemies – and destroy infrastructure. The northern residents’ problematic responses to missile strikes in the Second Lebanon War and the Negev residents’ mass flight in the face of Hamas’ shelling in the 2014 Israel-Gaza war and others, proved that the Israeli home front’s ability to cope is thin and troubling. The public’s low threshold of endurance must persuade the decision makers to abandon the containment mentality and return to the preemptive strike, which has been deserted since the Six Day War.

Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’ leader in Gaza, announced that “in the next conflict we’ll pulverize Israel.” And Israel, instead of neutralizing his proven ability to carry out his threats, is defending itself, as usual, by digging passive underground obstacles, whose cost is tremendous and whose effectivity is doubtful. That’s the mentality.

One day, when all these forces launch a missile attack from the north, east and south, we’ll go to glorious defensive battle again, which we’ll win of course, big time. But the terrible price of the enemy’s first strike will be paid by civilians, tens of thousands of them.

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