Departing Air Force Chief Warns of Arab Missile Power

Israel’s outgoing air force commander has said the chances for war breaking out in the near future are small – but Israel’s existence would be in danger if one did.

At a news conference last week marking the end of his assignment, Herzl Bodinger said most of Israel’s Arab neighbors possessed technologically advanced weapons, which significantly heightened the risks for Israel in the event of a war.

“Most of the Arab countries which neighbor Israel possess long-range missiles,” he said June 20. “Such missiles can hit any spot in Israel.”

Bodinger also reflected on Operation Grapes of Wrath, Israel’s military action against Hezbollah in April, which was launched after the fundamentalist movement sent several series of Katyusha rockets into northern Israel.

Bodinger said the operation had done little to change the situation in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah continued to operate from the same places it had before the military action, he added.

While the militant Shi’ete group was no longer rocketing communities in northern Israel, Bodinger said, it remained to be seen whether the U.S.- brokered cease-fire that brought an end to attacks on civilian targets by both sides would hold.

During Operation Grapes of Wrath, Israeli air force jets made precision strikes against Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon as well as in Beirut.

Negotiation efforts to reach a truce were spurred by the Israeli shelling of a U.N. base in Kfar Kana, close to Hezbollah launching sites. At least 91 Lebanese civilians were killed at the base.

The group set up to monitor the cease-fire – with representatives from Israel, Lebanon Syria, France and the United States – met last week in Washington.

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