Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Cheshvan 5763 - October 9, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Rattling the Sabers and Increasing the Prayers

We have heard a lot about preparations for a war with Iraq lately, and much of it is reassuring. But we should not let any of it dampen our incentives to pray.

In the last Gulf War, soon after the first attack, the Americans announced that they had destroyed the vast majority of Saddam Hussein's missiles. It was soon seen that they were grossly mistaken, as Hussein launched Scud missiles at Israel and at Saudi Arabia.

Everyone has been learning from the last war and preparing for the next one for more than a decade. Iraq's preparations are not well known as they have all been secret, but it is clear that they have a great incentive to hit Israel.

America and Israel have jointly developed the Arrow missile. Unlike the Patriot, which was originally designed to defend against airplanes, the Arrow was built especially to destroy incoming missiles while they are still high above the atmosphere. Any chemical and biological weapons not destroyed in the initial explosion would not survive the heat of reentry into the atmosphere. The Arrow missile did not do well in its first few tests, but the authorities said that it was successful in eight of its final nine tests. Of course the real test is yet to come, lo oleinu.

Two batteries of missiles are said to be operational, but so far there is only one installation of the Green Pine radar, the other half of the Arrow missile defense system. This radar was developed entirely by Israel, with no outside assistance. It is supposed to track the missiles soon after takeoff, and to give an early estimate of exactly where they may land as well as from where they were launched. The former information can be used to give a specific warning to threatened areas to take cover. The latter information might be used to destroy the launchers before they are moved or hidden, either by planes or by missiles. The full abilities of the Green Pine system have not been made public. Israel is the only country in the world that has an operational anti- missile system, but it is the only country in the world that needs it so badly.

In addition there were reports that Israeli commandos are already living in western Iraq. It was understood that they are there in connection with missile attacks from Iraq, but their exact role is not clear.

The most encouraging statements were those of Maj-Gen Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) who is head of military intelligence. He said flatly that Iraq does not have any missiles deployed that can reach Israel, though it can reach Saudi Arabia and Iran. Though he surely has evidence for this, he may be wrong.

Many Israeli military thinkers believe that Israel's failure to take action in the last Gulf War contributed, along with the ignominious withdrawal from southern Lebanon two years ago, to the reckless emboldenment among the Palestinians that was part of what produced the current conflict. Thus they feel that it is important that this time Israel responds effectively to Iraqi aggression. We do not know if they are correct or not, but it is clear that such thinking recommends that Israel take decisive action if attacked again.

Yet more important than all of this is to keep in mind that a time of war is a time of instability and rapid change. No one can know for sure what will happen -- but we know for sure where the real power lies. We must beseech Hashem to bring a lasting peace to us and to the entire world.

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