Tuesday September 1, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Iran built listening stations in Golan to spy on Israel
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Aharon Lapidot

11 billion shekels worth of deterrence

Let's assume that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's assertions are accurate, and that Israel has indeed spent more than NIS 11 billion ($2.95 billion) in the last two years at the defense establishment's request. Those would be facts — what follows from them is interpretation: Olmert described this significant sum as spent on "delusional adventures that were never implemented and never will be," clearly hinting at one form or another about an attack on Iran.

If we assume that the sum is indeed accurate, what can one buy with 11 billion shekels? I'll assure no one believes the Defense Ministry spent the money on hummus. This sum would cover a bolstering of the IDF's capabilities and top-tier systems, in technology, specifically naval, aerial and missile defense. It's safe to assume that the 11 billion includes technologically advanced systems like the F-35 stealth fighter; it's also a safe bet that it included long-range and pinpoint accurate weapons, ones that are best kept shrouded in silence. The sum would cover intelligence gathering and command and control systems on the strategic level. I imagine that the money could go toward expediting the development of the Arrow-3 and Magic Wand long and mid-range missile defense systems, which would provide protection for Israel's homefront. On the naval front, Olmert already divulged on Sunday that Israel purchased a sixth Dolphin submarine from Germany at the cost of half a billion euros.

Olmert referred to the purchase of the submarine as a "megalomaniac waste that has no connection to Israel's security whatsoever." It's a bit strange, seeing that only a few years back, in 2006, then-Prime Minister Olmert himself approved the purchase of two such submarines for one billion euros. Were Dolphin submarines 4 and 5 also "a megalomanic waste"? Or just the sixth? Strange indeed.

Ehud Olmert attacked the government's decision to purchase the submarine, in spite of, as he described it, "opposition in writing from the Navy commander." Let's go ahead and assume this to be true, what is the source of this opposition? Israel's navy has to perform complex missions, continuously defending Israel's long maritime borders. The tools at the navy's disposal are only getting older and diminishing in number. Currently, the navy has 11 missile boats of the first line, and two, both over 40 years old, for the second line. In the recent past the navy had some 26 vessels. The navy needs ships like we need air to breathe, and if budgets don't permit, then the navy would prefer delaying the purchase of another submarine to acquire more missile boats.

In the U.S., there is a saying, "put your money where your mouth is." Investing 11 billion shekels in strategic systems is unequivocal proof of one's seriousness about defense. It compels Israel's allies to ramp up their efforts to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear program, as well as boosting Israel's deterrence against Iran itself (and other enemies). Now, readers, do the math yourselves.

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