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Israeli Defense Chief Urges Prioritization of Missile Defense Work

Israel's top defense official on Sunday called for the prioritization of development of systems that can fend off short- and midrange missile attacks, characterizing the matter as a "national emergency," the Times of Israel reported (see GSN, March 2).

In an interview with Army Radio, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "we must guarantee that the new program receives financing in the shortest possible amount of time, so that all the citizens of the state receive the defense they deserve."

The developmental David's Sling system, also known as the Magic Wand, is aimed at thwarting intermediate-range missile strikes. When deployed, it would form the middle layer of Israel's multitiered missile shield, with the Iron Dome system providing protection against rocket strikes and Arrow interceptors fending off possible long-range missile attacks (Daniel Easterman, Times of Israel, March 11).

The Israeli military has gained the capacity to identify specifically where enemy missiles have fallen in the event the country comes under attack, Haaretz reported on Friday (see GSN, March 8).

Upgrades to the Israel Defense Forces' Castle Lake command-and-control technology would provide coordinates on the whereabouts of threats such as missile launchers and hostile troops as well as the whereabouts of Israel's own troops.

Castle Lake can now bring up a map of Israel that pinpoints the location of every missile strike. The new technology can also furnish specifics on the type of missile fired, the level of destruction it produced and the duration of an attack. This new on-the-ground intelligence would allow officers to include up-to-the-minute information in their decision-making.

Military Intelligence Director Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said in February that there are some 200,000 missiles and rockets presently targeting Israel. 

"These [missile] ranges cover all of Gush Dan, from Syria, Lebanon and Iran," said Kochavi, in describing much of the coastal territory surrounding Tel Aviv.  

"The warheads on these missiles are becoming ever more deadly, weighing hundreds of kilograms. They are becoming ever more accurate, and the entire network is becoming more dispersed, more concealed, and more integrated into an urban environment. Every tenth house in Lebanon has a missile arsenal or a launching pad," the general asserted (Gili Cohen, Haaretz, March 9).

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This article provides an overview of Israel's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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