BEIRUT: Israeli experts estimate 300 fatalities should their country be pitted against Hezbollah, Syria and Iran in a war, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.
According to Haaretz, the estimate is based on the number of missiles Hezbollah, Syria and Iran possess, the level of preparedness by the Jewish state and its experiences in the 2006 war.
“Defense Ministry experts estimate that in a war with Iran and Hezbollah, some 200 Israeli civilians will die. If Syria joins the war as well, the number of fatalities could rise to 300,” the paper said.
The ministry’s forecasts, which merely provide a general view of a possible future war with Israel's rivals, were prepared by its research operation experts, who have presented their findings to Israeli army officers and government leaders.
“The assumption here is that even if Israel attacks the Iranian nuclear facilities and Tehran strikes back, it will not use its entire missile reservoir. Some of the missiles will fail to launch or will be hit on the ground by the Israeli Air Force. Others will miss and fall in open areas,” the paper quoted the experts as saying.
The theory also considers it probable that a few dozen missiles will hit populated areas in Israel such as the Dan region.
The level of predicted fatalities in a possible war is linked to the “function of the Israeli public's behavior and its level of preparedness.”
The assumption that fatalities can be limited is also based on Israel’s experiences in the 2006 war with Lebanon.
The report cited the experts as saying that when the public’s obedience to instructions was high during the 2006 war with Lebanon, the number of causalities was low.
“The Katyusha shells from Lebanon killed people who were outside or in unprotected areas inside their homes, as opposed to inside a shelter or protected space,” the experts said, adding that “the high number of protected spaces and shelters could also reduce the number of casualties.”
The experts cited another factor for the low number of casualties, saying that the time between the alert and the missile’s landing could play a critical role in preventing fatalities.
“The American X-band radar can give a 15-minute alert before an Iranian missile is expected to land in the center of the country, a reasonable time to prepare,” the paper said, adding that such factors could statistically limit casualties to less than one fatality for every ballistic missile.
But a military confrontation with Hezbollah is different, the experts say, given the resistance party’s possession of short and medium-range Katyusha rockets as well as hundreds of what the experts described as “relatively accurate M-600 rockets, which could strike the center of the country.”
“In a possible confrontation with Hezbollah, much depends on the Air Force and intelligence community's ability to strike the long-range rockets on the ground before they are launched,” the Israeli defense experts said.
They added that in the next conflict with Hezbollah, Israel would be less capable than it was in 2006 of destroying the party’s medium-range rockets.
“Some 4,200 rockets, mostly Katyushas, were fired at Israel's north, killing 54 people, 42 of them civilians. The estimate, based on the past war, says one civilian will be killed for every 80 rockets from Lebanon,” Haaretz quoted the experts as saying.