Op-Ed: Migron or Mustard Gas - What is Israel's Worry?
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.
On a cold morning in late January, ambulances raced in Haifa. There had been an 'attack' with a “dirty bomb”, armed with radioactive cesium 137.
Doctors cleaned up the survivors, while the authorities informed the public the “unthinkable” had happened in Israel.
It was just a drill, but the exercise, code-named “Dark Cloud,” was part of the Israel Home Front Command’s plan to prepare the country in case of war with Iran.
There are estimated to be 200,000 missiles pointed at the country today. Tel Aviv, where 60 percent of Israel’s population resides, will face Iran’s “judgment day”.
Many security drills are termed “NBC”, meaning nuclear, biological and chemical threats. In 1993 a Russian report indicated that Iran’s military industries were manufacturing two types of chemical weapons, mustard gas and the nerve agent Sarin. In addition to the chemical weapons industry, the report said “it is possible to speak confidently of the presence of a military-applied biological program”.
Syria has also produced hundreds of tons of chemical weapons and bombs filled with sarin and another lethal gas, VX. The idea is that botulism, anthrax and other lethal pathogens can be used in conjunction with explosives.
Sarin,the gas released at five different locations in the Tokyo subway in 1995 , is a deadly nerve gas produced for use in warfare. Since it is easy to make from readily available chemicals, it is impossible to say how many countries have supplies of poison gas, especially in small quantities.
In the 1980s, Iraq and Iran used gas against each other during the Iran-Iraq war. Just 100 grams of mustard gas would be enough to kill 500.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry recently gave the embassies a list of bunkers available for the diplomats. Only Tel Aviv has as many as 240 bunkers. The Jerusalem railway station can accommodate 5,000 people. Even theaters, like Habima in Tel Aviv, can host thousands of people.
The commander of the Home Front, Yair Golan, declared that “cities can be transformed into a battlefield” and that masses of people will be forced to flee to a “national refuge” in Samaria.
The hospitals have emergency plans. The most important industries, the banks and the Bezeq phone company, are preparing alternative technologies.
Meanwhile, in southern Israel, where Gaza-based terrorists have rained down thousands of missiles, bulldozers are hard at work building new shelters for the expected next round of shelling.
In Sderot, the town that has been hardest hit by Hamas fire, every street is already dotted with concrete huts.
A Home Front Command postcard, delivered to Israeli citizens, divides the country into six regions, from the Negev to the Golan. Each region has different times of reaction in case of attack. If you live along the Gaza Strip, you have 20 seconds to reach shelter. In Jerusalem, it’s three minutes. But if you live close to Lebanon or Syria, the color red means that, unless you are already in a bunker, you just have to wait for the rocket.
What do you think is Israel’s primary obsession these days?
There are some 1.7 million residents living in Israel who don’t have a bomb shelter or a bunker. Many schools don’t have enough space to shelter all of the students. These days, the State of Israel looks like a bunkered Western outpost threatened with destruction by Iran.
Since the year of the founding of the state, more than 60,000 rockets have fallen on Israel. Given this nightmare scenario, what do you think is Israel’s primary obsession these days?
You won't believe it: To demolish towns, outposts and neighborhoods in Samaria, these Maginot lines of the coastal cities. If Ulpana hill is destroyed, sooner or later Israel will confront an evacuation on the scale of Gush Katif. Migron, the Ulpana neighborhood in Beit El, Givat Assaf and Amona: 1,100 Israeli families are in the countdown.
For anyone looking for a comparison, that’s three-quarters of the number of families evacuated from Gush Katif (1,640 families). Without any apparent reason, a leader like Ariel Sharon, who was elected under a banner stating that “the status of Netzarim is the same as that of Tel Aviv”, raced towards self-destruction. Israeli generals declared that “the people in ‘orange’ are more dangerous than the Hizbullah”.
At that time, Haaretz’s editor-in-chief,David Landau, said that the withdrawal from Gaza was a good thing, not because Israel will no longer have to patrol the Jibalya camp. but “it’s because we tore down the settlements of the national religious public and we crushed the political power of Religious Zionism”. Yair Lapid said the same in Yediot.
A few days later, the ruins of the settlements to the south of Ashkelon were the home of advanced rocket launchers aimed at Tel Aviv.
Now the first in the High Court’s list is Migron: 47 families, 300 children, two kindergartens, a mikveh, parks and a petting zoo. Exactly as the Gush Katif’s families, idealistic families in Migron lived there in caravans, out of the belief that they are fulfilling the Israeli values of security and settlement. They think the state and the army should be their defenders, not their prosecutors.
On a hill uninhabited since the days of Saul and David today live elite combat soldiers, sons and grandsons of Israeli heroes who gave their lives to protect the country. In 1971, Palestinian terrorists fired katyusha rockets on Petah Tivka from a village near the 'settlement' of Beit Aryeh. It will happen again if Israel retreats from Judea and Samaria.
In the near future, the sirens will wake up the Israelis early in the morning, food cans will quickly disappear from the supermarkets, they will seal doors and windows and the Home Front Command will instruct them to enter into shelters. The rest will be history.
Which of the following will be Israel’s problem? Teheran or Beit El, which appears in the list of “cities of refuge” where it is better to live “in case of emergency”?
Or which of these: A Jewish boy who wakes up early in the morning, prays, and then goes to work the Biblical heartland, or an Arab technician dealing with 100 grams of mustard gas?