It’s time for Israel to seriously tackle the Iranian threat – opinion

Here’s the good news: Unless something extreme and dramatic happens, we won’t see Israeli F-35s or F-15s take off in the next two years to attack Iranian nuclear facilities.

It may sound contradictory, but it is not. Iran remains the threat it has been for 20 years, constantly straddling the nuclear threshold while playing with the West. His strategy has remained the same: to move his agenda forward by trying to pay the lowest possible price. Something like a dance – one step forward and one step back, and vice versa.

Here’s more bad news: Israel currently does not have an effective military plan in place against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The good news is that everything is set to change in the near future.

This is where the situation gets complicated. On the one hand, Naftali Bennett was not wrong after becoming prime minister when he said his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, was so focused on speaking out against Iran that he neglected to take action. to stop it.

The point is, Netanyahu’s strategy has failed. The Israeli defense establishment roughly agrees that while the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA, was a bad deal, convincing Donald Trump to withdraw from it in 2018 failed to achieve the desired outcome. Not only did Iran not give in to the sanctions or return to the negotiating table, but it insisted that if America pulled out of the deal, it could violate it as well.

That he has. Iran currently has around five tonnes of low enriched uranium, 85 kg enriched to 20% fissile purity and an additional 10 kg enriched to 60 kg. Under the JCPOA, Iran is not supposed to have more than a few hundred kilograms of low enriched uranium.

According to military intelligence, Iran may decide to take all this low enriched uranium and use it, within two months, to create enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, the so-called SQ – a ” significant quantity ”.

In IDF simulations, such a decision is called a “declaration of war,” but that does not mean that Israel will have to go to war immediately. Even with a military grade uranium SQ, Iran would still need to take the gas and turn it into uranium metal, a very complicated process that – with the assembly of a warhead installed on a ballistic missile that could reach Israel – would take at least two years.

The problem is that Israel has fallen behind. In 2010 and 2012, Israel had a plan in place to attack Iranian nuclear facilities. It might not be perfect or foolproof, but there was a plan.

Air Force squadrons were trained and prepared. The pilots knew their targets and how they would get there. When the JCPOA, as bad as it was, came into being, Israel put plans for an attack aside.

While there were its problems, everyone in Israel knew – including the deal’s biggest opponent, Netanyahu – that with the nuclear deal in place, the military operation was now irrelevant.

But just like at the gym, when you build muscle and muscle memory, you need to maintain it. Pilots must continue to train, ammunition must be maintained and budgets must be allocated.

When it appeared that the JCPOA was functioning, a decision was made by the government to stop these preparations. It was even presented to the security cabinet and approved by Netanyahu, as part of the IDF’s previous multi-year plan, called Gideon.

It looked good for a few years. Tehran continued to support terrorism, but for the most part respected the agreement. While the IDF still had to be vigilant and monitor Iran’s every move, it was able to invest its money elsewhere. As a result, the strained muscle – the plan of attack against Iran – has been put aside.

But when Trump left the deal and Iran violated it as well, Israel did not react accordingly. That should have been the wake-up call. But it was not. Israel has not reinvested the necessary funds to refine its attack plan for a possible strike.

In the IDF, officers blame what they call the Perfect Storm – violations against Iran that are occurring alongside the start of Israel’s four-election cycle. It meant no state budget, which meant there was no way the IDF could prepare an attack option again.

Today, with a budget on track to be approved in the Knesset, these plans can move forward again. They are no longer the same as in 2012. Iran has had time to strengthen its nuclear installations and strengthen its defenses. This presents challenges, but remember that Israel’s technology has improved as well. Israel didn’t even have a single F-35 fighter jet with stealth capabilities in 2012. Today it has a fleet of 30.

Using the budget as an excuse to explain why the plan of attack fell to the side is a bit populist. During the almost three years without a state budget, the IDF was able to secure additional funds and divert money from any project deemed less important to others deemed more critical.

If Israel’s generals felt that Iran was holding a sword to their necks, are we to honestly believe that it was the lack of a state budget that held them back? A transitional government was able to allocate billions of shekels to help Israelis overcome economic hardship caused by COVID-19. Couldn’t he have done the same if there had been an emergency with Iran?

Naturally, they could have, meaning they didn’t feel an emergency. Politicians can use Iran to express a sense of urgency or to demean an opponent, but that populism doesn’t always match the real nature of the threat.

While Iran is arguably Israel’s greatest and potentially even existential threat, we cannot ignore that it is also used for political ends when practical – by politicians seeking to attack one. the others, or by the army to extract a little more money from the State. coffers.

Israel’s strategic position was evident in Bennett’s speech to the United Nations on Monday. While he said Israel’s patience was running out and words alone would not stop Iran, he did not speak out strongly against US efforts to return to the JCPOA, nor did he present a clear plan for what Israel will do when diplomacy fails. .

Was the lack of a clear threat due to the understanding that Israel’s military option was not yet ready, or because Bennett did not want to be seen undermining the Biden administration’s efforts to achieve a deal ?

The answer seems to be somewhere in the middle, which is why Israel is currently focusing on two parallel efforts: preparing the military and trying to convince the White House to present its own credible military threat.

According to the IDF, only these options, combined with severe sanctions, will have a chance to stop the Iranians. And if all else fails, plans will be ready in the near future for anything that may be on the horizon.


Moshe Bina (credit: courtesy)

On Monday morning, my brother-in-law Moshe Bina passed away.

Moshe was the eldest of my wife, Chaya’s siblings. And his life was too short: he was 49, a husband of Rena and a father of six beautiful children.

Books could be written about Moishie, as he was known in the family, the perfect example of what it meant to be devoutly religious with your feet firmly on the ground.

Moshe was a leading international tax lawyer in Tel Aviv, but never missed a day of learning, finishing the entire Talmud a few years ago. He attended minyan at shul every morning, but never missed a workout with his group of cyclists.

He was involved in life, with everything he did, someone who loved his family, his country and his people.

You know what kind of person I’m talking about. He was the guy you could call in the middle of the night, the guy who would drop whatever he was doing to pick you up because your car broke down. The guy who would make sure the event you are planning goes off without a hitch; the guy who would never miss an opportunity to barbecue at the family picnic.

Monday afternoon, during the funeral, I was standing on the road just below the grave when a car pulled up. The window rolled down and an older woman asked who the rabbi being buried was. I did not understand.

“Which rabbi? “

“Isn’t that a rabbi who died?” she asked. “It must be a rabbi, otherwise why would so many people be here?” “

“He’s not a rabbi,” I told him, waving to the massive crowd that came to pay him their last respects. “He’s my brother-in-law, Moshe Bina.”

The woman did not want to let go. “But why so many people? Who was he?”

She wanted to know something that I couldn’t put into words. The gathered crowd did not come for a rabbi or for a famous politician. They came because Moshe was special and in his own small and unique way had shown people how they too could make their lives a little better.

It was an honor to have known Moshe and to have him in our lives. We will miss him.

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