Israel will respond to Iran's & Hezbollah's missiles with catastrophic weapons

Written by Hamid Ghoriafi, Middle East Analyst & Journalist,
Published on 07/01/10 by the Kuwaiti Daily Al-Seyassah,
Translated from Arabic by Elias Bejjani, LCCC Chairman

*Israel is providing her 4.5 million citizens with anti-weapons of mass destruction masks.
*Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expecting a war with Hezbollah and Iran by the end of next March.
*The Israeli army fears that Hezbollah might launch missiles with biological and chemical warheads.
*Israel confirmed that its response would include southern Lebanon, the suburbs of Beirut, the Bekaa valley and the heart of the Gaza strip.

Next Wednesday and Thursday, Israel will carry the most extensive training exercise in its history. The aim is to prepare the country for the potential threat of biological and chemical warfare missiles which her military and political experts fear Iran or Hezbollah might launch on the Jewish state, or through a series of local terrorist attacks by weapons of mass destruction targeting Tel Aviv or other major Israeli cities.

The "Orange Flame" is the name that was given to the campaign according to an Israeli media agency. The training is expected to cover Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan and Holon. It will focus on procedures and tactics required to rescue those injured by biological and chemical weapons. This exercise is going to be carried despite the fact that the state's "Interior Front Command," is working on the distribution of anti-biological and -chemical masks for the entire Israeli population of 4.5 million.

Hundreds of medical and rescue teams, municipal authorities, hospitals, special army and internal security services units, will all jointly participate in this biggest and most extensive exercise that aims to address potential biological disasters that could hit the country.

The training will involve vital ministries e.g., health, interior, defense, and public affairs. All staff in these institutions will be trained on how to face a catastrophic biological warfare in which thousands of citizens could be exposed to deadly gases. Meanwhile, hospitals in Tel Aviv and other regions like Ichilov, Tel Hashomer and Beersheba, in addition to health organizations and portable clinics will all be ready to receive more than a thousand volunteers who supposedly will be hit with biological gases.

According to the Israeli Haaretz newspaper there will be three major centers in Tel Aviv to accommodate the injured: the House of Danny, the Ramat Gan sports stadium and the Holon club. The training will also include thousands of citizens, civil servants, army and civil defense elements, in addition to doctors and nurses who were trained during the past few months in dealing with internal (terrorist acts) or external (missiles from outside the border) biological and chemical attacks.

Gen. Zeev Snir, who is assigned to represent the Israeli Defense Ministry in supervising the exercises, told the media that: "Our first challenge will focus on containing the damages caused by terrorist acts and biological or chemical attacks, and then identify the type of biological or chemical agent used in a bid that life returns to normal as quickly as possible".

European diplomatic reports have quoted Israeli high ranking officials saying that the Netanyahu government and the Israeli army command are expecting an imminent war against their country waged either jointly by Iran, Hezbollah and the Hamas movement, or by one of these three bodies after next March. They also stated that Israel might find herself having no other option but to carry out a preemptive attack against Iran or Lebanon or the Gaza Strip or against all the three together in case she feels any kind of danger threatening the safety of her citizens or the country's infrastructure.

The Haaretz Israeli Daily reported that for years, and especially since the 1991 western coalition war against Iraq, Israeli authorities have been providing only 60% of its population with anti-biological and -chemical masks, with certain exceptions for those residing in vulnerable and dangerous regions in the north neighboring Lebanon and Syria. The daily added that because of the current dramatic developments that are unfolding since the 2006 war with Hezbollah and the escalation of the Iranian nuclear conflict, the Netanyahu government has decided last week to expand the distribution of masks to cover the entire population, without exception, especially those living in densely populated areas in the second largest city, Tel Aviv, including cities and villages around it, which may be among the first targets of any biological and chemical warfare missile attack.

It is worth mentioning that Hezbollah's General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah has made it very clear in his last speeches that his missiles this time will reach Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv, a blatant reference to Israel's nuclear reactors in the Negev desert (Dimona).

According to statements made by Israeli officials that were circulated in European diplomatic and intelligence reports, the Israeli army will not hesitate for one moment to respond to any biological or chemical attacks targeting its cities and villages. It will strongly hit the bombing sources of the missiles with similar devastating weapons that could kill, injure, handicap and disfigure thousands of citizens in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa valley, the Beirut suburbs and the heart of the Gaza Strip and its surrounding areas. These reports described this upcoming war as disastrous to all parties.

The same reports stated that in case Iran strikes Israel with long-range missiles carrying chemical and biological warheads, Israel will respond by devastating air strikes and lethal extremely advanced weapons to target the capital Tehran and other major Iranian cities that are not equipped or trained to handle such a disastrous war like the Israeli cities.
The Haaretz said that the "Israeli National Post" and the "National Post Services" companies have lately won tenders from the Ministry of defense to provide around 4.5 million Israelis (i.e. the entire Israeli population) with anti weapons of mass destruction masks before the end of next February with a cost of three billion shekels.

The newspaper confirmed that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Director of Internal Front, Matan Mellnaii, have taken this decision on an emergency basis due to the deterioration of the situation in the region and the increasing external pressure on Israel. An impending war is on the horizon because both the Iranians and the Syrians have been setting up tens of thousands of missiles in Lebanon and Syria (on the borders with Israel), as well as in Iranian long range missile bases.

Click here to read the Arabic version of the analysis

*Elias Bejjani
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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