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Israeli security cabinet reportedly discussed Iranian cruise missile threat

10 October 2019
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Saudi military spokesman Colonel Turki al-Maliki stands amongst the remnants of cruise missiles and UAVs recovered after the 14 September attacks on Saudi oil facilities. Source: Saudi Ministry of Defence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a lengthy cabinet meeting on 6 October to discuss the ramifications of the 14 September cruise missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks on Saudi oil facilities, attributed to Iran, Hebrew-language media reported.

According to the Walla news website, the cabinet held a five-hour session to discuss the prospects of "Tehran trying to initiate a strategic attack on sensitive sites in Israel via cruise missiles, similar to the attacks on Saudi oilfields."

It quoted a source as saying that Israeli needs to upgrade its air defences, a move that would require billions of shekels and "require a broadside budgetary cut" to other ministries.

Netanyahu has been warning of an escalation with Iran in recent weeks, with Israeli concerns reportedly growing significantly following the lack of a US response to the attacks on Saudi oil installations.

Haaretz's military analyst Amos Harel published an analysis on 6 October stating that Netanyahu is seeking billions of shekels to improve Israeli air defences against Iranian missiles, with an emphasis on cruise missiles. He added that an initial assessment of the attacks showed that they "caused massive damage because the Iranians succeeded in circumventing the radars of American Patriot batteries in Saudi Arabia."

The attacks left a deep impression on the Israeli defence establishment and could force changes in Israeli air defences, he added. This includes upgrades to detection and identification systems and potentially making changes to existing interception systems such as the David's Sling, as well as the Patriot PAC-2 that it was to replace, both of which can shoot down cruise missiles.

Army Radio reported on 10 October that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi presented Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon with a range of threats that require immediate cash injections to the military's existing budget.

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