Two generals have made two different speeches about one new reality.
Israel faces threats from a record number of rockets and missiles hidden in Lebanon and the Gaza strip – and it wants to make clear that if these are launched in massive salvos, the reaction will be aggressive.
Maj Gen Aviv Kochavi, the head of the Israel Defence Forces’ intelligence corps, said on Wednesday 29 January 2014 that 170,000 rockets and missiles are aimed by enemy states at Israel and represent the most pressing threat. He even placed the danger above Iran’s rogue nuclear program.
As if not to leave any doubt over what will happen if these rockets are launched, Maj Gen Amir Eshel, commander of the Israeli air force said on Wednesday 29 January 2014 that Hezbollah, which operates from Lebanon, has prepared ”thousands” of bases in residential buildings. His pilots would destroy these in a future conflict, he added.
The unusually explicit threats can be seen as part of an effort by Israeli officials to prepare world opinion for high civilian casualties in any new confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“We will have to deal aggressively with thousands of Hezbollah bases which threaten the state of Israel and mainly our civilians,” Eshel said in a speech, citing Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and southern Lebanon among the locations for the bases. Most of these are also used for rocket launchers.
In recent years, Israeli intelligence has built a very accurate “target bank” that includes where rockets are stored in Lebanon and Gaza and where their launchers are.
The equation is clear: rockets targeted at civilians in Israel will meet the full force of Israeli air power.
The operational Iron Dome short-range rocket interceptor and the longer-range David’s Sling under development will stop some of the rockets in mid-trajectory, but Israel does not appear to be prepared to tolerate a war of attrition.