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Why Israel shrugs at retaliation after attack on Iran

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The threat of a simultaneous war with Hezbollah, Syria, and Gaza militants is the primary concern for the Israeli security establishment as it weighs a strike on Iran. Dubbed “the long arm of Iran” at the Israel Defense ForcesI headquarters, Hezbollah in Lebanon is said to possess more than 70,000 missiles that can strike as far south as Israel’s nuclear reactor near the city of Dimona – nearly 140 miles from the Lebanese border.

Combine this arsenal with the more than 10,000 rockets and missiles in the Gaza Strip and with Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons, and the threat to Israel’s home front is the most formidable since the 1973 Yom Kippur War when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel.

And yet, Israeli leaders seem content to shrug off this threat. On two recent occasions, Defense Minister Ehud Barak boldly estimated that Israel would sustain 300 to 500 casualties in a conflict with Iran and its proxies. Such an estimate suggests that Mr. Barak himself does not believe that Israeli cities will bear the full brunt of Iran’s “long arm” as a consequence to a strike.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also dismissed the danger of regional conflict by stating that these threats to the home front are “dwarfed” by a nuclear Iran.

Judging from their statements, Hezbollah leaders aren’t so sure they want to enter into a conflict with Israel at Iran’s behest. In February 2012, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said, “I tell you that the Iranian leadership will not ask Hezbollah to do anything. On that day, we will sit, think and decide what we will do.”

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