News24

Israel ends SMS missile alert test

2012-08-16 22:21

Jerusalem - Israel on Thursday wound up nationwide testing of an SMS warning system against missile attack, sending texts to mobile phones in Jerusalem and other parts of the country, a military spokesperson said.

The five-day exercise, which began on Sunday, took place to the backdrop of mounting speculation over a possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and a resulting Iranian counter-attack.

The army said that along with Jerusalem, Thursday's test included the Negev desert town of Arad, the northern cities of Afula and Hadera, and Upper Nazareth, a Jewish satellite of the Israeli Arab city.

A spokesperson said that Nazareth itself, the largest Arab city in Israel, was not included in the test, with military sources explaining that when the system became fully operational it would cover all communities.

The army says the warning messages were being sent in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Russian.

They are meant to warn of an imminent missile attack by Iran or Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, which could become a reality if Israel decides to mount a military strike on nuclear facilities in Iran.

Israel believes the Islamic republic is trying to develop a military nuclear capability under the guise of its civilian programme which it says would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Opponents of an Israeli attack said on Thursday that around 500 academics and retired military personnel had signed a petition calling on air force pilots to refuse to carry out a unilateral strike.

"I understand the far-reaching implications of this petition," a statement quoted one of the signatories, Tel Aviv University law professor Menachem Mautner, as saying.

Need US support

"The possibility of a decision to attack Iran has been keeping me awake for weeks."

The statement warns that injury to Iranian civilians as a result of radioactive leakage from any of the targeted facilities could expose pilots to future war crimes charges.

"We issue this appeal to you out of a deep sense of concern and anxiety," the petition tells the Israeli airmen. "Our fate, our very future lies very much in your hands."

On Thursday, President Shimon Peres said Israel could not attack Iran without US help, in a television interview for his 89th birthday.

"It is clear that we can not do it alone," he said. "We can repel [an attack] but it's clear to us that we must act in concert with America, even if there are some issues of co-ordination and delays."

A poll released the same day said that 61% of Jewish Israelis opposed a raid on Iran without US support.

The survey, published by the independent Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) think-tank, also said 57% of respondents believed talk of a pre-emptive strike is simply a tactic designed to pressure the Americans to take more resolute action against Iran.

Action imminent

"Most Jewish Israelis [56%] remain unconvinced that Israel will attack Iran without US co-operation in the near future," it added.

The IDI said the survey of 516 respondents was conducted by the Dahaf polling institute on 7-8 August and has a margin of error of 4.5% points.

In recent weeks, the Israeli press has been flooded with reports citing anonymous top officials suggesting military action against Tehran's nuclear facilities is imminent.

But US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday said Israel had not yet reached a decision on whether to mount an attack.

US President Barack Obama has said Washington will stop Iran from "acquiring nuclear weapons" - a step further down the line from Israel's red line, which says Tehran must not be allowed to acquire atomic weapons capability.

There is concern in Washington that a unilateral Israeli strike may not destroy Iran's underground nuclear facilities, could spark Iranian retaliation worldwide and may drag the United States into another war in the Middle East.

Comments
  • jojo.balela.1 - 2012-08-16 23:04

    Is violence all the Israeli government ever thinks about

      jaba.kov - 2012-08-17 06:42

      with violent neighbours what would you do... try and youtube 'Arab violence' and your first hits will probably be videos of how Muslim Syrian are throwing other Muslim Syrians off buildings and murdering women and children for the simple reason that they are not from the same sect of Islam. (The latest Vedeo going viral is of Syrian Postal workers being thrown off a 5 story building... the video though is gruesome as you see them hit the concrete head first.) Back to the subject... Israel knows full well how "peaceful" her neighbours are... if the Arabs murder each other with such ease what do you think they want to do to the only NON Muslim state (Infidels) of the Middle East. The Arabs have already started and lost six wars against Israel - thus Israel has every right to take precautions.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-08-17 07:48

      Israel was created in 1948 from 52% of the land formerly occupied by the Jewish and Palestinian people, and Palestine 43%. Most of the Israeli territory was the Negev Desert. Jerusalem fell into neither territory. Palestinians with their unelected, self-serving neighbors declared war on Israel the very next day. In the 1960's they even invaded Israel twice. Full military invasions. The result: Israel survived and pushed them back, gaining territory in the process. This is the origin of what some wrongly call "occupied land". There have been almost daily attacks by Palestinians, incited by their self-serving unelected backers. Palestinians even teach their children at Kindergarten to attack Israel, rather than be peaceful. Children. Kindergarten. From day one, and even today it's wage war on Israel. Israel defends herself. Yes sometimes going too far, which is unacceptable, but self-defense nonetheless. All that needs to happen is for Palestinians to choose peace side by side with Israel. This is more likely going forward now because the unelected dictators are being removed from power by their people one by one. They will no longer use the Palestinians for their own internal political ploys.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-08-17 08:10

    So all this war talk for the pas week, was just part of this drill! Poor Israelis......

      Larry - 2012-08-17 11:03

      Israel will serve you a wonderful education. Be prepared.

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