Thoughts about a war in the north

A little discussion about Avigdor Liberman becoming defense minister in Israel lead me to this article. It was about the missile threat to Israel and this lead to north. While the threat from the south is making us feel uncomfortable and in particular the southerners are feeling threatened, the treat from the north is really ugly and gives reason to great worries.

I am reading a lot of news and I do not keep a directory of important reports, but the one or the other may remember a report from a few years ago (three years or so), that Hezballah is intensively training to fire a volley of thousands of missiles and rockets in the first few hours of a passage of arms to come. And recently IDF sources reported, that they estimated Hezballah’s stockpile to an overall 150.000 missiles and rockets also containing precision guided missiles with a range between 300km and 500km. (SRBM) which allowed Hezballah to accurately target the Haifa heavy industries and of course the nitro-chemical industries there.

Here I’d like to play a scenario and correct it inbetween, because this is what strategists on both sides also do.

Ten years ago, Hezballah took a pretty simplistic approach using their rockets. They had quite a number of unguided Katyusha rockets and according to en.wikipedia

During the 2006 Lebanon War, Hezbollah fired between 3,970 and 4,228 rockets, from light truck-mounts and single-rail man-portable launchers. About 95% of these were 122 mm (4.8 in) Syrian-manufactured M-21OF type artillery rockets which carried warheads up to 30 kg (66 lb) and had a range of 20 km, perhaps up to 30 km (19 mi).[18][18][19][20][21] Hamas has launched 122-mm Grad-type Katyusha rockets from the Gaza Strip against several cities in Israel,[22] although they are not reported to have truck-mounted launchers. Although Katyusha originally referred to the mobile launcher, today the rockets are often referred to as Katyushas.

Despite the trouble discussing this with anti-semites in Western countries who claim that such a 30kg warhead was only a firecracker which wouldn’t pose a real threat, in 2011 I met a family (widower and seven orphans) and spent three weeks together with them in Haifa. The family fled Tsfad during the war in 2006 and lost everything during several stages of their flight. And despite that one could see, that the war not only harms the Arabs. The children suffered hard from there experiences during and after that war.

But the miracle about that 2006 war was that Hezballah didn’t hit a lot with its rockets the vast share missed.

This is now ten years ago and despite some tranquilizers handed out to the public, these ten years didn’t pass without Hezballah rebuilding its infrastructure and military capabilities. So Hezballah trained to fire a huge barrage of thousands of rockets within the first few hours, which potentially could render Iron Dome void. During the last conflict with Gaza (Protective Edge – 2014) we’ve seen Iron Dome intercepting a volley of 15 Qassam rockets:

The video shows a highly appreciated interception of a volley of 15 Qassam rockets fired from Gaza

But one launcher of Iron Dome contains 20 Tamir-interceptors and a battery has three to four launchers. This means that a battery can intercept up to 72 incoming hostile missiles (assumed an intercept probability of 90%) and then the battery is out and needs to reload.

Further assumed that IDF will see it coming and Israel will have around 15 Iron Dome batteries available ten of which located in the north, this would mean, that Iron Dome could intercept up to 720 missiles.

During the last war with Gaza, Iron Dome only needed to intercept less than 20% (it was rather 15%) of the hostile missiles. The others fell short. Unfortunately this figure isn’t easily portable to the north, because the Katyusha missiles from the north aren’t as improvised as the Qassam from the south. So let’s assume Iron Dome will have to intercept around 25% of the incoming Katyushas in the north. This means Hezballah would have to fire some 2900 missiles until IDF has to reload all its Iron Dome launchers.

Of course Hezballah doesn’t have launchers for 3000  Qassam to be fired in one go. They’ll also have to reload. So both sides will have to reload and IDF will be required to build up a large stockpile of Tamir-interceptors.

But this is only a part of the game!

During the recent years we’ve also been informed by loudmouth Hassan Nasrallah, that Hezballah would conquer the Galilee. And this is a part of Hezballah’s missile strategy. If Hezballah manages to carry the war onto Israel’s soil, it would prevent Israel from neutralizing Hezballah’s rocket launchers, which in turn would allow Hezballah to fire much more rockets at Israel before IDF could make an end to this nightmare. So an attempt to occupy Israeli territory mainly would be intended to support Hezballah’s missile strategy against Israel. Hezballah want’s to effectively prevent IDF from neutralizing its launchers. But the primary objective of Hezballah always will be to inflict as much damage to Israel as possible and to cause as many casualties among Israeli civilians as possible.

Hezballah’s objective is a war of terror.

Israel’s political echelon would be well advised to anticipate this objective of Hezballah, plan the scenarios and build up effective counter measures.

In a SciFi-B-Movi (I just watched the beginning) I picked up the following quote:

If we are to survive, a new balance must be found.
in normal times, evil would be fought by good,
but in times like these,
well, it should be fought by another kind of evil.

Jews don’t like this perspective and the vast share of our scriptures forbids to even think about the notion of being evil, but the prime directive of the Tora is very clear: Survive and annihilate your enemies! It is not that we ourselves define who our enemy is. Our enemies define this and thus give us the doubtful comfort that at least we don’t need to define whom we need to defeat.

So we are commanded to weight the values. In normal times we fight evil with good, but we are surrounded by evil forces (not everybody sees it like this) and we need to prepare for the latter – to prepare a really nasty and horrifying surprise for our adversaries.

Remember WWII

Would Britain have bombed Dresden without Germany having indiscriminately bombed London before? Well, historians came to the conclusion that Germany’s V1 and V2 attacks against London finally caused Britain’s leaders to re-think their values and leave a lasting impression among Germans. In order to survive, Germany had to be destroyed by all means.

In contrast to Israel, Britain had a few striking advantages:

  • It’s an island
  • It’s highly populated

Nevertheless, there were moments, when Germany brought Britain to the brink of collapse. During course of war, you cannot always continuously re-evaluate, if your action and measures are proportionate, which by the way isn’t a valid measure of war. Of course a successful passage of arms requires disproportionate measures. So are the 150.000 missiles stockpiled by Hezbollah disproportionate – they amount to a weapon of mass destruction. The publicly known means at hands to IDF to protect Israeli citizens in their effect amount to next to nothing.

This reminds me to the situation we had in the 1980s in Central Europe, when the two superpowers USA and USSR decided to plan for a nuclear war that would be contained in Central Europe. This was the time when the USSR deployed their SS-20 missile – it’s first with a solid fuel rocket motor – which initially carried a 1 megaton warhead and later was retrofitted with a three 150kt MIRV capability. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had 16 kilotons the one dropped on Nagasaki had around 20kt. This means, the Megaton device would have been 50 times more powerful than the Nagasaki bomb and the latter 150kt devices would have been 10 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. Facing this threat many people lost their faith into their leaders.

But at the bottom line it only showed how powerless our leaders were. Finally western leaders decided to counter this threat with their own nuclear missiles (Pershing II), which were much faster and much more accurate than the Soviet SS-20 but the Pershing II carried a much smaller warhead.

So our leaders had decided to turn all of Central Europe including its citizens into fine dust, if they felt the need to go to war and defend the “Fulda Gap”. In the mean time our French neighbors decided to devise and built their Hadès missiles which were directed at Western Germany not to defend France against the Germans but against the Russians once they made it through the Fulda Gap. So all our “friends” decided that they unfortunately had to evaporate Central Europe in case of war.

Great!

I think it feels about the same, when you live in Haifa not so far from a silo full with ammonium nitrate.

In order to counter this and to protect Israel and her citizens, the political echelon MUST think the unthinkable. While the Tora commands us to be good during normal times it also commands us to use ultimate measures in “times like these”. So while we try to live normal lives under the constant threat of our enemies, we need to allow our leaders to do everything in their power to allow us these beautiful lives. And with everything I mean everything. This is the idea behind Israel’s nuclear stockpile – the ultimate weapon as the last resort being planned, built and held ready.

And this is what we need for our neighbors, because we cannot easily go nuclear in this geo-political environment. Israel needs something as nasty as a low yield nuke, but conventional.

These things exist. They are heavier than a nuke but they are vastly cheaper.

The really important requirements to such weapons are:

  • it must be comparatively inexpensive.
  • it must be very effective, devastating and it must spread terror throughout Lebanon
  • it must be rapidly deployable – after Hezballah starts to fire missiles, it shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes until Lebanon suffers the first major impacts of such a weapon.
  • The weapon must be available in large numbers, so when Lebanon fires say 5000 missiles towards Israel, it should get at least 10.000 hits in return.

During the next passage of arms with Lebanon, Israel MUST give up her reserve.
Israel MUST make a statement that will be recognized and remembered throughout the middle east for many decades to come.
Israel MUST exact a compensation, for the damages it suffered during the last 70 years, in form of territory.

I am saying this so drastically, because Lebanon failed to learn. Actually it’s not only Lebanon. It’s all our “neighbors”. They behave differently, some more intelligent, some less. After so many years we can rely on the fact, that our neighbors never will give up enmity with us.

Some might object and say, that we have peace with Egypt and Jordan, but if you look closer to this “peace”, you’ll see, that this peace is only an armistice that has clotted to paperwork. As long as they [the Arabs] fear us more than they hate us, there will be relative calm – as soon as they will start to love their children more than they hate us, the armistice will be pretty stable, but peace would require them to change their nature. Our neighbors – the Arabs – would have to change their whole culture and to be honest, I am pessimistic on that.