But how will an Israel-Iran war look if it breaks out eventually? This question is at the center of a new study compiled by the Defense Ministry. Researcher Dr. Moshe Vered writes that such a war could go on for a long time. He believes that the Iranian’s typical willingness to sacrifice many victims for a long period of time in a conflict with Israel will dictate a prolonged war between the two states, which will be difficult to end. Dr. Vered, a physicist, occupies various roles in the defense establishment’s technology division. He published his study this week as part of a sabbatical at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University. He argues that the length of an Israel-Iran war “will be measured in year, not in weeks or days.” This stems from the Shiite perception by which one must fight and sacrifice for the sake of justice and to correct wrongs to Islam and to Muslims. “This outlook sees Israel’s existence as a wrong that must be corrected for the sake of world redemption. The achievement of this goal will only be possible once Israel is annihilated. The Iranians will continue fighting this war, as much as it is up to them, until they achieve their objective, despite the heavy toll that will be exacted in battle,” Vered writes. Vered argues further that only the fear the Iranian regime being toppled could bring such a war to an end. But, it seems unlikely that Israel will be able to pose a real threat to the Iranian regime, and “in the absence of a way out, acceptable to both sides, the war could continue for a very long time.” Vered mentions the fact that the Iran-Iraq war, in the 1980s, lasted eight years. Iran fought many years to achieve its demands – to correct the basic wrong of Iraq’s invasion into its territory, Iraqi recognition of its culpability, and the removal of the head of the Iraqi regime Saddam Hussein. Iran paid an inconceivable price in that war – half a million dead and economic damage higher than the country’s entire oil income in the 20th century – before it agreed to a ceasefire. The ceasefire came only when there was a real danger that the Iranian regime would not survive. Vered writes that “one can’t rule out with a high degree of certainty the possibility that a war will break out between Israel and Iran.” Therefore, a careful assessment of the details of a possible war, and preparation for it, are essential. In his study, he fails to find anyone who could develop an effective method to shorten the time of a war. He goes on to write that the fear of such a war should prompt Israel to prepare mentally, politically, and militarily, while creating ways to end it quickly, should it erupt. The assumption that the war will become prolonged should affect the way Israel prepares for it, as well it should affect the decision whether or not to attack Iranian facilities in the future. Vered rejects the assumption that in the absence of a shared border, the Israel-Iran war will be fought only with surface to surface missiles. Such warfare shouldn’t last a long time because Iran’s supply of long-range missiles isn’t large. However, he writes, it is more plausible to assume that Iran will want to continue the fighting against Israel via messengers: Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, and maybe even an Iranian force on Syrian soil, as part of a defense treaty between Tehran and Damascus. He plays down the likelihood of a short confrontation (Israeli assault followed by a punishing counter assault and then an immediate ceasefire under international pressure while both sides realize that the war has played out), he thinks that the ideology of the Iranian regime will dictate a prolonged war.
Writes Amos Harel in Haaretz.com