JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—In a move seen as a possible concrete preparation for an eventual military confrontation with Iran, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has approved the fortification of about a dozen of Israel’s energy infrastructure facilities.
The aim is to protect them against missile attacks in a war, The Jerusalem Post reported. The infrastructure protection includes key water facilities, Netanyahu told a meeting with officers of the Home Front Command this week.
“We are not where we need to be in our protection of critical infrastructure,” a senior IDF officer told the Post on Thursday. The amount approved for the security upgrade was not available.
In addition to the new fortification effort, the IDF has also embarked on a program to upgrade the missile defenses of certain privately owned facilities that could greatly endanger the public under a missile attack. One such potential threat is represented by factories that use large amounts of ammonia in their manufacturing processes.
This danger became real during the 2009 Operation Cast Lead, when an unnamed city in the south of Israel was on the verge of being evacuated when just a single ammonia tank truck was damaged in an accident and began leaking a cloud of the lethal gas. Authorities managed to stop the leak and avert a panic.
Taking the incident as a serious warning, the Home Front Command has begun installing security cameras and chemical sensors at such facilities to detect hazardous leaks. The warning system is linked to the command’s operations center.
The Home Front Command recently published an estimate of how many civilian casualties would occur in a missile strike by Iran. The number given, “less than 500,” was not widely interpreted as reassuring.
The estimate is a projection based on the result of missile attacks against Israel by Iraq in the First Gulf War (1990-91), by Hezbollah from Lebanon in the Second Lebanon War (2006), and by Hamas from Gaza during the 2009 Operation Cast Lead and following it to date. The targets of all such attacks have been Israel’s civilian population.