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
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.