Sunday, October 07, 2012

Two Can Play At "Blow Up Their Nuclear Facilities"

The papers are full of the report that Israel shot down an "unidentified" drone over the northern Negev.

According to Haaretz the drone was shot down in the Yattir forest, after travelling roughly 56 kilometers over Israel, and after entering Israel's air space from the Gaza Strip. The map above shows the approximate track of the drone over Israel.

In other reports, Israeli sources are quoted as saying the drone was sent by Hezbollah,  likely launched in Lebanon, and flew from Lebanon to Gaza over the Mediterranean. This is a sophisticated operation, and the fact that the Israeli air-force did not shoot it down until it had penetrated so far should worry Israeli military planners. A slight change of course could have sent this drone over Beer Sheva - a city of 200,000, and numerous Israeli military bases. More ominously, Israel's nuclear facilities at Dimona (bottom right in the above image) are only 30 kilometers south of where the drone was shot down and only 65 from the Gaza and Sinai borders.

Given that Hezbollah is an Iranian client, and Iran just announced the development of long range drones capable of both reconnaissance and of delivering high impact missiles, this incident is quite likely Iran sending a message to Israel: "Two can play the bomb nuclear facilities game." In other words, if Israel does strike Iranian nuclear facilities, no one should be surprised if Iran attempts to strike Israel's nuclear reactors in Dimona. And given the dismal job the Israel air force did in detecting and downing last weeks drone, we shouldn't be surprised if Iran succeeds.

The Israeli air force is already attempting to learn lessons, and recriminations are beginning to fly. Worryingly, there may be more than enough fallout to go around.

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