اجعلنا صفحة البداية RSS خدمة Add to favorite Facebook Twitter

Advanced

With eye on Iran, Gaza conflict reassures Netanyahu
Published Friday 23/11/2012 23:40
Font- Font+

Both on the diplomatic and military front, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will draw some comfort from his offensive against Gaza as he switches his gaze once more to his main strategic challenge -- Iran.

Israel views Iran's nuclear program as an "existential threat" in a totally different league to the problems posed by Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu fears a nuclear-armed Iran could one day eradicate Israel and has promised that Tehran will not get the bomb should he win a third term in office in elections on Jan. 22.

In the meantime, he has just ended an eight-day offensive against Hamas with the aim of halting rocket fire out of the coastal territory into southern Israel.

Six Israelis and over 170 Palestinians died in the fighting before an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect on Wednesday, ending a localised, asymmetric conflict that looked very different to any potential war with Iran.

"You cannot compare the Gaza Strip to any other military environment, which makes it unwise to describe what has happened there as a rehearsal for attacking Iran," said Uzi Eilam, senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies.

Nonetheless, the Israeli military inflicted serious blows to Hamas' weapons arsenal, much of it sourced from Iran, and showed the world that it has cutting-edge technology, particularly when it comes to missile defense.

Israel says its new Iron Dome interceptors knocked out 421 incoming rockets from Gaza, scoring an 84 percent success rate. Without it, there would have been much more destruction and a significantly higher death toll.

Hezbollah

Analysts here believe this will worry Iran's main ally in the region, Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon and is estimated to have anywhere up to 60,000 rockets pointing across Israel's northern border.

Netanyahu has suggested he might attack Iran if diplomacy and international sanctions fail to halt its nuclear progress. Iran says its atomic program is peaceful, and if war breaks out Israelis fear Hezbollah might leap into the fray.

Politicians say the Iron Dome gives Israel an advantage.

"The Iron Dome has proved itself to be a game changer ... and has undoubtedly lessened the threat of Hezbollah," said Yohanan Plesner, an opposition member of parliament who sits on the Knesset's foreign affairs and defence committee.

The fact Israel weathered some 1,500 short-to-medium range rockets from Gaza with relative ease was savoured by the country's leaders, who, for once, were not clamouring for an committee of enquiry following a major military enterprise.

"We have moved light years ahead in recent years, both in terms of preparation, instructions to the people, the whole way the municipalities operate," Plesner said.

"This explains why almost 1,500 rockets have caused a relatively astounding level of low casualties."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak predicted that it would take a "few years and billions of shekels" to build a defensive shield that covered the whole country, but the groundwork was in place.

"No army has such a system, nor does any state or civilian population ... From this point we look on with optimism," he said. "Eventually (it will) protect the entire state of Israel against most threats, short and medium-range missiles."

Israel's answer to the bigger, ballistic missiles of Iran is Arrow II, an interceptor that works in a similar way to Iron Dome, but at far higher altitudes. Tehran has vowed to retaliate if it comes under attack and is estimated to have a few hundred long-range rockets which could hit the Jewish State.

Developers of the Arrow II, which has so far proved itself only in trials, boast a shoot-down rate of some 90 percent.

Iranian isolation

Israeli ministers were not just singing the praises of their missile technologies in the wake of the Gaza offensive, but also their intelligence gathering.

Israel said it attacked 1,500 sites in Gaza and "severely impaired" Hamas' launching capabilities, suggesting it would take a long time to recover -- possibly helping to sideline it in the event of an Iran conflagration.

"In Iran, I have no doubt, there are fevered discussions going on as they try to understand how was it that the Jews managed to crack so many targets," Civil Defence Minister Avi Dichter told Israel Radio.

Hamas, which refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist, has claimed victory in the fighting and denied that it suffered any major losses in the round-the-clock bombing raids.

Whatever the result on the ground, there is little doubt in Israel that Iran suffered a diplomatic setback this week.

"It was very important for Iran to see a major rift between Israel and Egypt," said Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian expert who teaches at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.

But by avoiding a potentially bloody ground invasion of Gaza and welcoming Egyptian mediation in the crisis, Israel managed to stave off a major split with President Mohamed Mursi and opened a welcome window of dialogue.

Moreover, the ceasefire brokered by Mursi made clear that Hamas, once viewed as being under Iranian sway, is very much in the Egyptian camp and is not taking any orders from Tehran.

"It's becoming clear that major Palestinian groups have realized that (Iran) would fight Israel to the last Palestinian, and this is a price which they are unwilling to pay," said Javedanfar. "Hamas has moved away from Iran."

Few Israelis believe that the ceasefire with Hamas will last for any great length of time, but it should provide Netanyahu with time to refocus on the Iranian dossier.

Whereas he had broad support from the military, the public and politicians for his Gaza offensive, he will rapidly rediscover that the divisions over a much more difficult assault on far-away Iran remain as deep as ever.

As such, the perceived achievements of the last eight days are unlikely to inform on final decision-making on Iran.

"This is not going to affect the future possible confrontation between Israel and Iran," said Giora Eiland, a former Israeli National Security Adviser.
Print
1 ) johnny benson / usa
25/11/2012 06:02
cudos to maan....here is a true assesment of things in this bad neighborhood.....israel will not have quams in doing a desden on beruit,,should the y be attacked...and iran knows full well that israel can destroy terhan if need be.....iran may make a deal hopefully....if not ...g-d or allah help them

2 ) Melvin / USA
26/11/2012 01:25
What a propaganda story! The fairly low tech Iranian made Fajr5 missiles hitting Tel Aviv had a tremendous political effect on Israel and the West, even though most of them were disabled by the irondome. It is unwise of netenyahu or analysts to look at this short military flare up with optimism. If this new phase in the Palestinian /Israeli conflict was such a success, Israel would have continued it until Hamas and the Jihad Islami were finished off for good. Unfortunately Israel lost again

3 ) Melvin / USA
26/11/2012 01:45
Cont. Peace between the Palestinians & Israelis will only be achieved through a fair & just dialogue, that is when Israel will look at the Palestrinans as equals. Israel's & the West's lack of sincerity to resolve this conflict has encouraged Iran to FULLY back the Palestinians in this conflict (something no other country expect Syria has done ). If warmongring politicians are pushed aside, there would be every reason for the Israelis & Palestinians to pursue peace & even live side by side.
Name Country
Comment
Characters
Note: Comments will be reviewed for appropriate content. Click here for more details.

Share/Bookmark

Analysis: The PLO must stop buying time
Analysis: Donor complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian rights
Naftali Bennett West Bank annexation plan a wake up call for the West

Close Next Previous
All Rights Reserved © Ma'an News Agency 2005 - 2014