Sherwin Pomerantz

The 191st Day of War in Israel

Here in Jerusalem, we awoke at 1:40 AM to the sound of missile booms while air raid sirens sounded in a swath of territory from here south to Beersheba and even to the Dead Sea, an area that rarely gets attacked.

Iran launched more than 200 drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles at Israel late Saturday, in an attack that marks the first time that Israel’s most powerful enemy has directed weapons directly toward Israeli territory. Drones and missiles were also reportedly launched from Yemen and other countries around the region.  Today the IDF has further clarified that the full Iranian attack consisted of over 300 threats, of which 100 were ballistic missiles launched from Iran. Another 30 cruise missiles were launched from the Islamic Republic, along with drones. There were also two rounds of rockets, around 40 in total, fired on Israel from Lebanon, with Israel responding with counterattacks in close to real-time.

None of the drones or cruise missiles entered Israeli airspace. IDF spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari noted that only a small number of ballistic missiles penetrated Israel’s airspace. Almost all interceptions were by aircraft, David’s Sling, or the Arrow missile systems. The Iron Dome, which defends well against Hamas and Hezbollah’s simple rockets, is less relevant for drones and more sophisticated long-range missiles.

Israelis in the north, the center and south were told to head to bomb shelters, and sirens and explosions were heard in much of the country, including in Jerusalem, as Israel and our allies (specifically the US, UK, and Jordan) worked to shoot down the drones.

At least one person, a seven-year-old child from the Bedouin Arab town of Arad, was reported to have been seriously injured by falling shrapnel and was hospitalized in intensive care. The US and Britain reportedly shot down some of the drones, and Israeli media reported that Jordan, which has heavily criticized Israel’s war in Gaza, had shot down drones over its territory as well.

The word “drone” is actually a misnomer. These were sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which are basically mini airplanes loaded with explosives that can fly upwards of 1,500 miles but at relatively low speeds (about 100 mph) and low altitude which makes them more difficult to hit. They explode as soon as they hit any barrier. It would have taken an individual UAV a few hours to fly from Iran to Israel giving our defense mechanisms a lot of time to locate and destroy them.   While Iran has officially announced “that’s it” when it comes to retaliation for our presumed killing of six of their top military brass in the Iranian embassy compound in Damascus in March, we remain on guard. Schools are closed today, Ben Gurion Airport was closed to all traffic but has now reopened. Israeli airlines are flying in and out but most foreign airlines will not return until later in the week. Excessively long delays will be the norm there for the rest of the week as the country prepares for the start of the Passover holiday.

Israel’s Institute for National Strategic Studies analyzed the Iranian attack as follows:

Last night, Israel recorded a great operational success, alongside strategic complexity. From an operational perspective, everything worked perfectly: Preliminary intelligence by the Military Intelligence Directorate, an effective detection system, and the excellent interception system of Israel’s Air Force.

Strategically, the situation is more complex:

* Israel and the United States failed to deter Iran from attacking.

* Iran managed to harm Israel without obliging the United States to attack in response with Israel’s cooperation.

* Last night, Israel acted for the first time as part of a coalition. This is effective and important, but it limits the freedom of action in response.

* The coalition is the answer to “the day after the war in Gaza” and that’s what we should aim for—a regional group against Iran and the resistance front.

They continued: “The Israeli response will come on Iranian soil. But for now, we shouldn’t offer any clarity on the issue, but we should let the other side suffer in uncertainty. Time is in our hands. We can plan and act smart—a successful defense allows for this.”

On the Lebanese front Israeli Air Force jets struck a Hezbollah weapons manufacturing site in the area of Nabi Chit, in the Beqaa valley, deep in Lebanon, the military confirmed on Sunday. The IDF noted that the strike had been carried out in response to the overnight launches which had been fired into Israeli territory. Earlier on Sunday, Israeli media reported, citing Lebanese sources, that IDF jets had carried out the attack in the Beqaa Valley deep in Lebanon.

For those of us living here, last night was a scary moment when we found ourselves under direct attack by Iran. We are all impressed and grateful that our Israel Defense Forces in cooperation with the United State, United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Jordan, were all willing to assist in downing incoming UAV’s launched by Iran. We are grateful as well, to the One above, whose providence and protection we enjoyed during the time of our distress. May we continue to be so blessed and may the remaining hostages be released sooner rather than later.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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