by Rick Moran
The wonder isn't so much the broad access to IDF and IAF personnel and plans granted the reporter, it's that the military censors let it all be shown on national TV.
A major Israel TV station on Sunday night broadcast a detailed report on how Israel will go about attacking Iran's nuclear facilities in the event that diplomacy and sanctions fail and Israel decides to carry out a military strike.
The report, screened on the main evening news of Channel 10, was remarkable both in terms of the access granted to the reporter, who said he had spent weeks with the pilots and other personnel he interviewed, and in the fact that his assessments on a strike were cleared by the military censor.
No order to strike is likely to be given before the P5+1 talks with Iran resume in May, the reporter, Alon Ben-David, said. "But the coming summer will not only be hot but tense."
In the event that negotiations fail and the order is given for Israel to carry out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, "dozens if not more planes" will take part in the mission: attack and escort jets, tankers for mid-air refueling, electronic warfare planes and rescue helicopters, the report said.
Ben-David said the Israel Air Force "does not have the capacity to destroy the entire Iranian program." There will be no replication of the decisive strikes on Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981 or on Syria in 2007, he said. "The result won't be definitive." But, a pilot quoted in the report said, the IAF will have to ensure that it emerges with the necessary result, with "a short and professional" assault.
Ben-David said that if negotiations break down, and Iran moves key parts of its nuclear program underground to its Qom facility, the IAF "is likely to get the order and to set out on the long journey to Iran."
The reporter added, "the moment of truth is near."
Is it? There is absolutely no doubt that Israel has detailed contingency plans to attack Iran's nuclear sites. There have even been some probable rehearsals for the attack in the last few months as the IAF attempts to coordinate the planes, their refueling points, and time on target details that will be vital to minimize losses and achieve the greatest success possible.
But what is it that the IDF let the reporter see? It could be a gigantic bluff meant to prod the Iranians in the talks now underway with the P5+1 nations - a not so subtle message that a rain of ruin from the air is coming and they can do little to stop it.
Then again, the Israelis may have allowed the report to air for domestic purposes. A lot of Israelis don't think their military has the capability to strike Iran effectively. A report like this may change a few minds in that regard.
For whatever reason, the TV report shows that preparations are probably complete for an attack and all that is needed is a "go" from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Whether that order will be given is pretty much up to the Iranians now.
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