News / Middle East

Israel Debates Possible Fallout From Attack on Iran

Scott Bobb

In recent months, Israeli leaders have stepped up their rhetoric about Iran’s nuclear capabilities and increasingly are warning that Israel might attack Iranian nuclear installations to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. Lately they are warning that such an attack could come this year. This is sparking widespread debate in Israel, where memories are still vivid of missile attacks on the country two decades ago during the Iraq war.

Bitter memories

Lawyer Moshe Meiron, 86, sits in the living room of his house in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. He was deputy mayor of the town when Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, under attack by a coalition of Western and Arab states because of his invasion of Kuwait, 21 years ago launched Scud missiles against Israel.

Meiron recalls the night after a siren alert when he was huddled with his wife in a safe room, wearing gas masks. A missile struck their car parked in the driveway nine meters away.

“Everything, five or six villas, were completely destroyed," Meiron said. "All the cars were burned up. And it's a miracle that we are here alive, my wife and I.”

Photo Gallery: Iran's military assets



Global threat


Such memories of retaliation by Israel's enemies have not deterred Israel's senior leaders from warning that they are prepared to attack another country in the region, Iran, to prevent it from gaining nuclear weapons. They say a military attack is a last option but that they are prepared to go it alone if the international community hesitates.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says a nuclear Iran would pose a global threat.

"A nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to Israel, to the region, to the world. Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. Period," Netanyahu said.

How Israel is planning to stop Iran from doing so has been the subject of a number of media reports in recent weeks.

Time running out

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently told a conference of military strategic experts in Hertzliya near Tel Aviv that time is running out for an effective military strike, possibly before the end of this year, and the problem must be dealt with soon.

Experts say Tehran is moving important nuclear facilities into an underground fortress that is not likely to be seriously damaged by even the heaviest bombs.

Iranian leaders deny any intent to make nuclear weapons and say their nuclear program is for peaceful uses: power generation and medical research.

But Iran has warned it would retaliate for any attack. Tehran possesses ballistic missiles that can reach Israel and as far as Europe. One expert at the conference said Tehran is working on a missile that could reach the United States.

Missile range

Israel Debates Possible Fallout From Attack on Iran
Israel Debates Possible Fallout From Attack on Iran

Iran specialist David Menashri says the repercussions of an Israeli attack could also de-stabilize the region.

“Using such an option can have devastating consequences for a long time and for the sake of peace in the Middle East it's better to find other solutions," he said. "I think other solutions exist.”

Menashri believes sanctions and international pressure should be ratcheted up until the Iranian government agrees to negotiate an end to any nuclear weapons program.

The United States and European Union have imposed economic sanctions on Iran, including restrictions on its Central Bank and an embargo on Iranian oil exports, which make up one-half of its domestic product.

Retaliation


Iran has responded by saying it will cut off oil supplies to Europe and might block the Strait of Hormuz, a transit point for crude oil exports from other Gulf oil producers.

Some analysts believe Israel does not intend to attack Iran unilaterally but is talking about it to marshal public opinion and pressure its allies to enact even stiffer sanctions.

But, according to media reports, senior Israeli officials do not believe sanctions will ultimately persuade Iran to abandon its supposed nuclear ambitions.

Others, like military history professor Martin van Creveld, say a military attack would only delay Iran's nuclear program by a few years. He says the international community should accept that Iran will one day acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

"There is the possibility that the Iranians will say, look, this nuclear business is causing us so much trouble let's get the bomb as soon as we can; tell the whole world; and then no one will be able to touch us," he said.

Regional stability

Israel Debates Possible Fallout From Attack on Iran
Israel Debates Possible Fallout From Attack on Iran

But allowing Iran to develop a nuclear capability would be a disaster, according to other analysts, such as Ephraim Kam of Tel Aviv's Institute for National Security Studies.

“It will make the Middle East less stable. It might induce other countries in the Middle East to join the nuclear race, countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Turkey, or Syria, in the long run perhaps even Iraq," said Kam. "The Middle East is going to be a much less safe place for many countries.”

Even if Israel launches a military strike against Iran, critics say it does not have the capability to successfully destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.They note that attack planes would need to refuel to reach Iran, 1,000 kilometers away. And they would need some kind of agreement to fly over Iran's neighbors.

US urges restraint

While U.S. President Barak Obama says Washington will not tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran and that all options are on the table, U.S. officials have urged restraint to allow the sanctions to work.

Public opinion surveys show the Israeli public is divided over attacking Iran. In a recent poll, 43 percent of respondents said they support an attack, while 41 percent said they oppose it.

However, nearly two-thirds of the respondents (62 percent) said they believe Iran will eventually develop nuclear weapons.

Lasting effects

On a street in Jerusalem, salesman Jonathan Fisher believes war is inevitable.

"Of war, I'm sure about it," said Fisher. "A war in Israel is just a matter of time. It will surely happen. When? I do not know."

Recent immigrant Pascal Roy says he feels safe in Israel.

"I wish there was a compromise before reaching," said Roy. "I'm totally opposed to a military attack before talking."

Student Oriyana Spitzer, 14, is worried about the future. She wants a peace that will allow people to live together with no more wars. 

Yaniv Shemesh was 14 years old when a Scud missile hit his apartment's neighborhood in Ramat Gan 21 years ago, wounding dozens of people. He still suffers from the trauma (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and cannot work.

He says he has nightmares, nervousness and tension. He avoids leaving his tiny apartment and anything that reminds him of the attack. He says he is obsessive and suspicious.

Like many Israelis, he hopes the confrontation between Israel and Iran will not go beyond saber rattling.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid