...reports suggest that Iran now has roughly 450 missiles that can reach Israel, half of which are improved models with much greater precision. Even if only one-fifth of those missiles get through Israel's missile defenses, Israeli cities could be hit by at least 100, most of which are able to hit targets with relative accuracy.
The Netanyahu government has sought to minimize the threat of Iranian retaliation for an Israeli strike against Iran in part by likening war with Iran to those fought against Hezbollah and Palestinian rockets in recent years, which have resulted in relatively few Israeli civilian casualties.
That was the message that Israeli military officials conveyed to the Israeli news media after an escalation of violence between the IDF and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza earlier this month.
Columnist Zvi Barel of Haaretz speculated on Mar. 11 that the purpose of the escalation, provoked by the IDF assassination of Zuhair al- Qaisi, the secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza, was to show the Israeli public that Israeli missile defense system could protect the population against rockets that the IDF linked to Iran.
Barel went even further. "After Iron Dome demonstrated its 95 percent effectiveness," he wrote, "there is no better proof to Israel's citizens that they will not suffer serious damage following an assault on Iran."
The success of the Iron Dome against short-range rockets from Gaza is irrelevant, however, to what could be expected from a relatively untested Arrow system against Iranian ballistic missiles aimed at Israeli targets.
GARETH PORTER is an investigative historian and journalist with Inter-Press Service specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in 2006.
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