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Tuesday, April 8, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Israeli intel projects a one-month war with Syria

TEL AVIV — Israel's intelligence community has concluded that the next war would involve missiles and Hizbullah, last at least a month and include Syria.

The intelligence community has drafted a series of scenarios for Israel's emergency services to prepare for future war. The scenarios envisioned the next war as including massive missile and rocket salvos, some of them containing chemical weapons, on Israeli cities.

"The scenarios are based on Arab military capability rather than intentions," an Israeli government source said. "The war in Lebanon was also seen as a taste of what a full-scale war would bring."

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Officials said Israel's military, police and emergency services have been on high alert for an attack by Hizbullah, Syria or Iran, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the current alert would last throughout April and did not rule out a continuation of high combat-readiness for the rest of 2008.

Under the scenarios, hundreds of Israelis would be killed and thousands injured in missile strikes on Tel Aviv. The enemy missiles would target strategic facilities, including Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport.

Syria was also expected to be a participant in the next war against Israel. The intelligence community envisioned Hizbullah, Iran and Syria coordinating strikes on northern and central Israel. The Hamas regime and the Palestinian Authority would also fire rockets from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In one scenario, Iran would also attack the Jewish state. The intelligence community did not expect Iran to fire nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, but said such an attack could stem from Syria.

The Israeli casualty count would reach 230 in a conventional weapons attack. In a chemical strike, the intelligence community envisioned up to 16,000 deaths.

The intelligence community has also envisioned Iran's use of Hizbullah as a proxy in a nonconventional weapons attack. One scenario was that Hizbullah launches Iranian-origin Ababil unmanned aerial vehicles filled with toxic chemicals to strike a school or government building.

Officials said the scenarios reflected the Israeli military's two leading priorities — defending against missile threats as well as stopping Iran's nuclear weapons program. They said the rocket and missile threat was meant to be resolved through the development of defensive systems rather than offensive military campaigns.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said anti-missile systems would enable Israel to avoid a war of attrition and consider withdrawal from the West Bank as well as the Golan Heights. A short-range missile and rocket system, termed Iron Dome, was not expected to be ready until at least 2010.

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