Netanyahu: Israel has learned never to rule out preemptive strikes

Barak Ravid — Haaretz Post Oct 15, 2013

Israeli Air Force F16i jets in flight drills Monday, see below. Click to enlarge

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in a hint to Iran that Israel had learned from its lessons in the 1973 Yom Kippur War “not to underestimate the enemy, not to ignore the dangers and not to give up on preemptive strikes.”

“Back than we paid the price of self-illusion,” Netanyahu said. “We will not make this mistake again.”

Netanyahu’s remarks at a Knesset ceremony marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur war came just after Iran presented its proposal on nuclear program at the Geneva P5+1 talks.

Netanyahu said that fears of international reaction to a preemptive strike should not always be taken into consideration. “There are cases when the thought about the international reaction to a preemptive strike is not equal to taking a strategic hit,” he said.

“The decision for a preemptive strike is one of the hardest a government can take because you can never prove what would happen if you didn’t act,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu also pointed out that “peace is achieved through force,” as exemplified by the fact that in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war, Israel signed peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan.

“Peace is achieved when hostile countries around us understand that Israel is strong and refuses to be uprooted.”

Netanyahu has repeatedly warned in interviews and speeches over the last few months that easing sanctions on Iran now would be an historic mistake. At the opening of the Knesset winter session Monday, Netanyahu stressed the importance of sanctions.

“Iran can quickly enrich uranium at 3.5 percent to 90 percent – which is necessary for a nuclear weapon. Iran is currently willing to give up on 20 percent – which is no longer important, in exchange for serious easing of sanctions. Iran is willing to give a little to get a lot, if not everything,” he added. “It would be a historic mistake to lift the sanctions, just before they are really effective. International pressure is what brought the Iranians to a level of concessions.”

Senior officials in the Obama administration said Monday that U.S. pressure on Iran will continue until the latter has implemented significant steps to halt its nuclear program.

A senior American official said any relief of sanctions would depend on the character and extent of Iranian steps, pointing out that it was the international pressure itself that led Iran to the negotiating table.

The U.S. official said the administration has been clear in its plan for limited action and did not expect it to affect the sanctions.

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Large swaths of Israel’s airspace closed due to military drill

Zohar BlumenKrantz — Haaretz Oct 15, 2013

All of Israel’s southern airspace has been closed to non-military air traffic for two days, due to a large-scale drill being conducted by the Israel Air Force since Monday.

Dozens of jet fighters and air-to-air refueling craft took part in the drill, prompting the temporary closure.

Commercial carriers have been instructed to redirect their domestic flights to and from Eilat to an alternative route: Aircraft were to fly west toward Amman, then south along the Jordanian border until they neared Aqaba, before proceeding along their usual routes. Flights to and from the Far East that regularly fly over Eilat were also to use this route.

Civilian air-traffic restrictions were to last a total of 36 hours, and were to affect commercial operators such as Arkia, Israir and El Al, which operate regular routes from Tel Aviv to Eilat and back. It also affected the operations of private and recreational flights.

International carriers were notified of the restrictions.

According to statistics provided by the Israel Airports Authority, the number of flights between Eilat and Tel Aviv totaled 1,226 this September – down 18 percent from last September. From the year’s start, 13,536 flights were made on the route – down 2.8 percent from the same period in 2012.

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