Eyeing Iran, Israel slates missile shield for 2015
Production schedule of defense network combining rocket interceptors, kamikaze satellites corresponds to Israel's assessment of when Iran might develop nuclear weaponry. Project director: We are talking about hermetic protection.
Israel's multi-layered air defense network will be fully deployed by 2015, combining short-range rocket interceptors with kamikaze satellites that blow up ballistic missiles in space, officials said on Monday.
Unveiled at a government-sponsored aerospace conference in Jerusalem, the production schedule corresponds to Israel's assessment of when Iran might develop nuclear weaponry.
Should the Islamic republic get the bomb, which could embolden allies Syria and Lebanese and Palestinian guerrillas in their own fights against the Jewish state.
"In the next two to five years, we will turn this vision into a reality," Colonel Zvika Haimovitch of the Israeli air defense corps said in a speech. "Within the coming five years, we will see this doctrine implemented."
Spurred by Hezbollah salvoes in the 2006 Lebanon war, Israel developed Iron Dome, which shoots down rockets with ranges of 5 to 70 km (3 to 45 miles). David's Sling, an interceptor for more powerful rockets, should be ready by 2013, Haimovitch said.
The next tier of the shield is Israel's Arrow interceptor, which has been operational for a decade and is designed to knock out Iranian or Syrian ballistic missiles at high altitudes.
An Arrow III upgrade will launch a booster-rigged satellite beyond Earth's atmosphere to collide with the missile, said project director Yoav Turgeman of state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
"We are talking about hermetic protection," Turgeman said. "Even if the new Arrow misses the incoming threat, it will be far enough from Israel's borders to allow for a secondary interception."
'Enemy has achieved aerial supremacy'
Turgeman said Arrow III, which like its predecessors is being underwritten by the United States, would be ready by 2014 or 2015. Its first live trial is expected in 2011. The projected cost of each interceptor missile is $2 million to $3 million.
Arrow III had previously been swathed in secrecy. Asked about the decision to go public with it at the International Aerospace Conference and Exhibition, an Israeli defense official said: "Everything was done with the full backing and initiative of the Defense Ministry, given the current state of affairs."
He appeared to be referring to Iran's uranium enrichment in defiance of international pressure to curb the process, which can produce fuel for bombs. Tehran says it is for energy only.
Though the Israelis have hinted they could attack Iran pre-emptively, there are big tactical and diplomatic hurdles.
The missile shield -- which officials envisage patching in, when needed, to US interceptors such as Aegis -- suggests Israel is weighing a more defensive posture, girded with the deterrence offered by its own assumed atomic arsenal.
Among the advantages of Arrow III cited by Turgeman was that its interception of a nuclear missile would not produce toxic debris, as this would burn up on re-entering Earth's atmosphere. Such planning is hard to reconcile with Israel's vow, dating back decades, to deny its enemies access to nuclear weaponry.
Arrow veteran Uzi Rubin raised another possible disincentive to a pre-emptive Israeli attack now: retaliation by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas guerrillas from Gaza.
In the absence of reliable air defenses, Rubin said in a speech, Israeli cities can be hit by as many as 13,000 rockets and missiles, some accurate to within 500 meters (yards) and carrying warheads with as much as a half-ton of explosives.
The greater Tel Aviv area alone could expect to suffer 1,500 strikes -- enough to guarantee damage to military headquarters, paralyze the economy and gut morale. Dozens of Iraqi Scud missiles sowed chaos in Tel Aviv during the 1991 Gulf war.
Rubin said the face-off risked forcing a de facto parity on Israel, which has long relied on overwhelming force of arms to compensate for its geographical smallness and numerous foes.
"The enemy has achieved aerial supremacy without even having planes," Rubin said.
More Quotes About "Palestine"
"There is no such country as Palestine. 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented. There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it".
- Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi, Syrian Arab leader to British Peel Commission, 1937 -
"There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not".
- Professor Philip Hitti, Arab historian, 1946 -
"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria".
- Representant of Saudi Arabia at the United Nations, 1956 -
Concerning the Holy Land, the chairman of the Syrian Delegation at the Paris Peace Conference in February 1919 stated:
"The only Arab domination since the Conquest in 635 c.e. hardly lasted, as such, 22 years".
"There is not a solitary village throughout its whole extent (valley of Jezreel, Galilea); not for thirty miles in either direction... One may ride ten miles hereabouts and not see ten human beings. For the sort of solitude to make one dreary, come to Galilee... Nazareth is forlorn... Jericho lies a mouldering ruin... Bethlehem and Bethany, in their poverty and humiliation... untenanted by any living creature... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent, mournful expanse... a desolation... We never saw a human being on the whole route... Hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil had almost deserted the country... Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes... desolate and unlovely...".
- Mark Twain, "The Innocents Abroad", 1867 -
"In 1590 a 'simple English visitor' to Jerusalem wrote: 'Nothing there is to bescene but a little of the old walls, which is yet remayning and all the rest is grasse, mosse and weedes much like to a piece of rank or moist grounde'.".
- Gunner Edward Webbe, Palestine Exploration Fund,
Quarterly Statement, p. 86; de Haas, History, p. 338 -
"The land in Palestine is lacking in people to till its fertile soil".
- British archaeologist Thomas Shaw, mid-1700s -
"Palestine is a ruined and desolate land".
- Count Constantine François Volney, XVIII century French author and historian -
"The Arabs themselves cannot be considered but temporary residents. They pitched their tents in its grazing fields or built their places of refuge in its ruined cities. They created nothing in it. Since they were strangers to the land, they never became its masters. The desert wind that brought them hither could one day carry them away without their leaving behind them any sign of their passage through it".
- Comments by Christians concerning the Arabs in Palestine in the 1800s -
"Then we entered the hill district, and our path lay through the clattering bed of an ancient stream, whose brawling waters have rolled away into the past, along with the fierce and turbulent race who once inhabited these savage hills. There may have been cultivation here two thousand years ago. The mountains, or huge stony mounds environing this rough path, have level ridges all the way up to their summits; on these parallel ledges there is still some verdure and soil: when water flowed here, and the country was thronged with that extraordinary population, which, according to the Sacred Histories, was crowded into the region, these mountain steps may have been gardens and vineyards, such as we see now thriving along the hills of the Rhine. Now the district is quite deserted, and you ride among what seem to be so many petrified waterfalls. We saw no animals moving among the stony brakes; scarcely even a dozen little birds in the whole course of the ride".
- William Thackeray in "From Jaffa To Jerusalem", 1844 -
"The country is in a considerable degree empty of inhabitants and therefore its greatest need is of a body of population".
- James Finn, British Consul in 1857 -
"The area was underpopulated and remained economically stagnant until the arrival of the first Zionist pioneers in the 1880's, who came to rebuild the Jewish land. The country had remained "The Holy Land" in the religious and historic consciousness of mankind, which associated it with the Bible and the history of the Jewish people. Jewish development of the country also attracted large numbers of other immigrants - both Jewish and Arab. The road leading from Gaza to the north was only a summer track suitable for transport by camels and carts... Houses were all of mud. No windows were anywhere to be seen... The plows used were of wood... The yields were very poor... The sanitary conditions in the village [Yabna] were horrible... Schools did not exist... The rate of infant mortality was very high... The western part, toward the sea, was almost a desert... The villages in this area were few and thinly populated. Many ruins of villages were scattered over the area, as owing to the prevalence of malaria, many villages were deserted by their inhabitants".
- The report of the British Royal Commission, 1913 -