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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Israel grits teeth as 'doom day' draws near

Sun, 03 May 2009 - PressTV

Israel Air Force (IAF) missile operators have been called up to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran.

As the Israeli-predicted date for war on Iran draws closer, a report says Israeli's missile operators have begun weekly drills to hone their skills.

Israeli Air Force (IAF) reservists who operate the ballistic missile destroyer, the Arrow, and the surface-to-air missile, Patriot, have been called up by the Defense Ministry to spend one day a week on duty to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran.

The drills carried out by the missile operators are to improve their skills in countering dozens of long-range Iranian Shahab missiles expected to be fired at Israel in the event of a war on Iran.

"We are working hard to be ready for the Iranian threat," a top IAF officer was quoted by the Jerusalem Post. "We are preparing for barrages, split warheads and other surprises and therefore we need to retain a high operational level by everyone, including reservists."

While such drills have been carried out since last year those involved in them were "only pilots". The current duty, however, includes soldiers from the Air Defense Division who are on study leave.

"They come once a week to simulate different scenarios," the IAF officer explained.

The scenarios that are practiced include "the firing of large barrages at Israel from different countries at once, and the need for the operator to decide which missile to intercept first and at what stage of its flight."

"There are difficult dilemmas that the operators face when it comes to missile defense," the officer added.

According to the report, Israel test-fired its Arrow 2 interceptor earlier last month and shot down a missile which acted as Iran's Shahab missile.

The military drills are conducted as earlier in April Israel announced that it is set to mobilize its army to hold the largest military exercise in its history on June 2.

One of the missions of the nationwide military drill is to psych up the public for the breaking out of war and to convince the people that in the event of a war the entire country would "become a front without warning".

The US-made THAAD, which uses a hit-to-kill approach to shoot down short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and the advanced Aegis combat system are scheduled to be brought to Israel especially for the large-scale exercise.

The latest development in Israel's military circles comes at a time when Tel Aviv has been heading steadily toward a confrontation with Tehran over its nuclear activity, citing fears that a "nuclear Iran" is the prime existential threat to its security.

Earlier in March, hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the alarm about a major military conflict in the upcoming months.

According to Debka, "His main consideration is that Israel expects to be embroiled in a major military confrontation in the next few months with Iran, Hamas or Hezbollah -- or all three at once."

While Israel's relentless calls for war on Iran have so far received stiff opposition in the US, top Israeli leaders have moved to launch high-profile diplomatic activities in an effort to convince the US government and European countries about what they describe as "the Iranian nuclear threat."

Israeli President Shimon Peres headed for Washington on Sunday for a four-day visit to meet with US President Barack Obama and discuss Iran's nuclear issue.

Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with US leaders in Washington later this month where the "Iranian threat" is expected to top the agenda.

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