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Israelis fear homefront vulnerable to Iran strike

Despite its confident saber-rattling, Israel's concern is growing that the country is vulnerable to a devastating counterstrike if it attacks Iran's nuclear program.

world Updated: Feb 22, 2012 00:17 IST

Despite its confident saber-rattling, Israel's concern is growing that the country is vulnerable to a devastating counterstrike if it attacks Iran's nuclear program.


An announcement this week that a mobile rocket-defense system will soon be built just outside Tel Aviv, where Israel's sprawling military headquarters sits smack in the middle of office towers, museums, night spots and hotels, caused some jitters. Israeli officials cite intelligence reports that Tel Aviv will be a main target of any attack.

Increasingly, the debate in Israel is turning to whether a strike can do enough damage to the Iranian program to be worth the risks. Experts believe that any attack would at best set back, but not cripple, the Iranians.

Skepticism about Israel's ability to defend itself runs deep here. Israelis still remember Iraqi Scuds landing in the center of the country 20 years ago. In 2006, the Lebanese Hezbollah militia seemed able to rain rockets at will during a monthlong conflict with the Jewish state. A scathing government report issued months ago suggested the homefront is still woefully unprepared.

In a questionably timed move, the Cabinet minister in charge of civil defense in recent days resigned to become the ambassador to faraway China. Vice Prime Minister Dan Meridor, indicated Saturday that Israel was facing a new type of peril.

"Israel (is vulnerable to) missiles and rockets from neighboring countries. So of course we need to understand the change of paradigm," he said.