Considering the unprecedented failure of Israel’s military establishment to prevent the October 7 attack by Hamas, Israel should have every reason to be afraid when the arch enemy is Iran.
Hamas attack on Israel that was carried out on October 7 showed just how vulnerable Israel’s military is in predicting, preventing, and fighting a war. What makes matters even worse for Israel is that despite all the propaganda that it has the most advanced and the most capable military in the whole Middle East, it was not able to counter a small militia group.
But Hamas is not the biggest challenge for Israel, and nor is Hezbollah. For years, Israeli politicians have named Iran as their arch enemy and have also continuously asserted their intention to attack Iran if it doesn’t freeze its nuclear program.
But is really Israel able to face Iran if a war erupts between the two? To read between the lines, the main challenges that the Israeli military is currently facing include preparing to attack Iran’s nuclear sites, and confronting with pro-Iran proxy groups, especially Hezbollah and Hamas.
Why Israel can’t attack Iran?
The biggest military threat that Israel faces is Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Israel has always threatened Iran that if it pursues its nuclear program to high-level enrichment of uranium, Israel may bomb Iran’s nuclear sites. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has been preparing for this mission for years, but it will be difficult to accomplish such a task for many reasons.
First, although Israel has experience attacking the nuclear sites of its enemy countries, unlike the attacks on nuclear weapons facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007, there are multiple targets in Iran. The distance to the targets is also very high, and Iran’s nuclear sites are more than 1000 kilometers away from Israel.
Second, Israel is not going to receive new KC-46 aerial refueling planes from the US for a few years from now, and in the meantime, it has to rely on very old tankers and possibly ground refueling of its fighters in an Arab country in the Persian Gulf, which is an unlikely scenario considering the current war between Israel and Hamas.
Third, even with reliable refueling, the Israeli Air Force may lose its fighter planes during an attack on Iran. (The plane may be shot down by Iranian air defense systems such as the S-300). Some proponents of a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities in Israel believe that over the past decade, the Israeli Air Force has gained good combat experience in confronting the Iranian-backed Syrian air defenses.
But the point is that the strength of the Israeli Air Force has never been tested in a real air-to-air combat. On the other hand, Iran may have a weak air force and is only equipped with old fighters such as the F-14, but there are reports saying that in the near future, the country will receive (or may have received) advanced Sukhoi 35 fighters from Russia.
Last but not least, Israel should realize this fact that most of Iran’s nuclear sites are protected by strong and indestructible fortifications or, like the Fordow nuclear facility, they are built meters underground, which reduces the probability of a successful attack on the facilities. The Israeli Air Force has laser-guided ammunitions known as GBU-28 bombs, but they are not powerful enough to reach underground sites and do the task.