Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Defense Crosses a Red Line

Defenders of Israeli behavior should pay close attention to the highly revealing remarks of Israelis themselves. At its best, Israeli self-criticism is profoundly insightful and has often been mentioned on this blog. The self-justification and attitude toward others of the Zionists also deserves careful reading. A case in point, the right-wing Israeli news website DEBKA reported in February:

Israel's government changeover catches its armed forces on a high war alert on two fronts – its southern border with the Gaza Strip and its northern borders with Lebanon and Syria, DEBKA-Net-Weekly reported Feb. 6. Iran is deeply involved in both. The northern borders may be the more flammable, our military sources report, after Israel warned Damascus, through US, Egyptian and Turkish channels, that its delivery of scores of mobile anti-air missile systems to Hizballah in Lebanon would cross a red line.

Their possession would make Hizballah the first terrorist group in the world to be armed with an independent air defense weapon system.

In Hizballah's hands, this air defense system would seriously endanger Israeli air movements over Galilee and the Mediterranean, impede US Sixth Fleet flights and endow the Lebanese Shiite group with total military superiority over the Lebanese army and the UNIFIL peacekeepers in the south.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources, scores of missile carriers painted in Hizballah's colors stand ready at four Syrian military depots ready to cross the Lebanese border. In the last six months, hundreds of operatives trained in their operation in Iran and Syria. Iranian and Syrian missile officers have picked Lebanese sites for their deployment. Hizballah has placed them off-limits to civilians.

The highly-mobile, low-altitude, single-stage surface-to-air missile has a radar system that can detect, track and engage aircraft independently, picking up targets at 30 km and begin tracking them at 20-25 km.

Two separate missile guidance radars are used (with offset frequencies to reduce the effectiveness of Electronic Counter Measures (ECM), so that if one is jammed or shut down, the new missiles can track targets optically. It is armed with a 19-kilo fragmentation warhead with contact and proximity detonation capability.

A battery consists of two launch vehicles, each armed with 6 missiles and two transload vehicles with 18 missile reloads. The lethal radius at low altitude is 5 meters.

It is highly mobile, fully amphibious, air transportable and can be relocated to a new site within four minutes from system shutdown.

The integration of the new batteries with the C-802 shore-to-ship missiles (of which Hizballah has taken delivery of more than 1,000), when deployed along the Lebanese Mediterranean coast would sharply inhibit the movements of the US Sixth Fleet.

Note that even this highly pro-Israeli source admits these are “defensive” weapons, yet it alleges that they constitute a danger to Israel. Well, yes, they would constitute a danger to Israeli efforts to violate Lebanon’s borders; they would constitute a danger to an Israeli air attack on one of its neighbors. And that is a “red line.” No neighbor of Israel is allowed to possess weapons of self-defense.

DEBKA also warns that if Hezbollah possessed such weapons, it would have “total military superiority” over the Lebanese Army. Suddenly, Israel is concerned about the ability of the Lebanese Army to defend Lebanon. DEBKA does not explain how ground-to-air missiles provide superiority over an army, but if Israel is really concerned about the Lebanese Army’s ability to defend Lebanon, then perhaps it should support the idea of allowing the Lebanese Army to have modern weapons of self-defense. If Lebanon’s state forces shot down an intruding Israeli jet, Hezbollah would no longer be able to claim it needed an independent militia to defend its country.

One of the serious broader issues hinted at here is the spread of technology seems likely to give the advantage to highly mobile defensive forces. Perhaps states should start thinking about how to reach accommodation with dissident groups rather than focusing on destroying them before the controls on the spread of critical weapons, such as shoulder-fired missiles, completely collapse. That would, of course, be bad news for the armaments industry, but someone has to make the patriotic sacrifice.

No comments: