Defense estimate: 300 Israelis would die in Iran counterattack

Israel's Defense Ministry says the country is well protected from conventional Iranian missiles. (Flash90)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—An Iranian counterattack following a preemptive strike by Israel on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities would result in 300 Israeli casualties, the security cabinet heard in a briefing on Monday, according to Channel 10.

According to the Defense Ministry estimate, the war with Iran would involve three weeks of continuous fighting on multiple fronts, with thousands of missiles being launched at civilian sites from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. Nevertheless, officials estimate that fewer than 300 Israelis would be killed in the fighting.

The estimate took into account Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system and the fact that Iran’s conventional missile capabilities are limited.

The estimate recalled a statement by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in November that played down fears of massive casualties in a war with Iran. “There’s no chance in such a situation for 500,000 killed, not 5,000 or even 500 killed,” Barak said.

His assurances were somewhat mitigated in February, when MK Ze’ev Bielski, chairman of a Knesset panel on home front defense, declared that almost one in four Israelis lacks access to bomb shelters.

“Are we prepared for a war? No,” he said. “Things are moving too slowly and we are wasting very precious time.”

The Defense Ministry announced last month that some 100,000 rockets and missiles are pointed at Israel by Syria, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Civil Defense Ministry confirmed Bielski’s data, but was upbeat. “Our position remains that if everyone does what they are expected to do during an emergency, the situation will be tenable,” a ministry official said.