The United States and Israel are putting on a large-scale joint exercise — one with high stakes in the Middle East. Right now, the two countries are rehearsing defense against a ballistic missile attack.
According to a report by the Jewish Press, Juniper Cobra, an exercise held every two years, is underway. This time, the exercise is simulating a massive, two-front attack against Israel, which, historically, has been no stranger to hostile ballistic missiles landing in its territory.
Heavy damage and rubble from an Iraqi Scud Missile hit on Uziel Street in Ramat Gan, a Tel Aviv neighborhood filled with Israelis of Iraqi descent. (Photo from National Photo Collection of Israel)
During Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein launched dozens of modified SS-1 "Scud" missiles at Israel. A total of 39 missiles landed on Israeli territory, causing two deaths and substantial property damage. That number would have been higher had the United States not deployed batteries of MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Israel.
Even now, the threat still exists. Last month, Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad threatened to launch missiles at Israel if there was another strike at Damascus. Israel carried out a major strike last April, targeting a weapons dump. Hezbollah also reportedly has a lot of missiles as well. The Iranian-sponsored terrorist group has routinely fired rockets into Israel.
A missile from the Israeli Iron Dome, launched during the Operation Pillar of Defense to intercept a missile coming from the Gaza strip. (Israeli Ministry of Defense photo)
As a response to the constant attacks, the Israeli Defense Forces has deployed the Iron Dome system to shoot down such rockets from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. They're also deploying the Arrow, a ballistic-missile defense system that scored its first kill last March against a Syrian SA-5 Gammon.
The stakes for this exercise are high and have increased as tensions mount over Israeli allegations of Iranian actions in Syria and Lebanon. Iranian leaders have vowed in the past to wipe Israel off the map. An American missile-defense test in Hawaii ended in failure when a RIM-161 Standard SM-3 Block IIA missile missed a target late last month. Let's hope this exercise proves to be more successful.