Israel, Iran, and Gog-Magog
Vol: 81 Issue: 21 Saturday, June 21, 2008
More than one hundred Israeli fighters and bombers participated in a long range mock military exercise that triggered alarms at the Kremlin and prompted Russia’s foreign minister to hold a press conference.
The exercise, conducted during the first week in June, involved the mixed force of F-15s and F16s flying more than 900 miles, which is the approximate distance from Israel to the Natanz nuclear enrichment plants in central Iran.
The exercise included in-flight refueling using airborne tankers and the use of helicopter rescue teams, ostensibly for retrieving downed pilots. When pressed for a comment, the Israeli military issued a statement saying only that the Israeli air force “regularly trains for various missions in order to confront and meet the challenges posed by the threats facing Israel.”
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev offered no comment beyond the military’s statement. Israel’s official position is virtually identical to that of the White House.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has repeatedly said Israel would prefer a diplomatic solution, but refused to rule out military action, mirroring the Bush administration’s warning that “all options remain on the table.”
At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment on whether the United States supports or opposes any future Israeli air strikes against Iran.
“We are seeking a peaceful, diplomatic resolution” to the threat the West sees from Iran’s nuclear program. “We have made that clear to the Israeli government; we have made that clear to the Iranian government; we have made that clear to anybody who will listen and who asked about it.”
In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel published Wednesday, Olmert said the current international sanctions against Iran would probably not succeed alone, saying there were “many things that can be done economically, politically, diplomatically and militarily.”
Asked if Israel was capable of taking military action against Iran, Olmert said, “Israel always has to be in a position to defend itself against any adversary and against any threat of any kind.”
Israeli military analyst Martin Van Creveld of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University said military preparations for a possible attack are indeed under way.
“Israel has been talking about this possibility for a long time, that it would not take an Iranian nuclear weapon lying down. And it has been practicing the operation or operations for a long time,” he said.
The Russians, on the other hand, warned Israel against taking any action against Iran, saying there is ‘no proof’ that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.
That defense is as weak as claiming that just because the kid was caught with a pocketful of cookies and his hand in the cookie jar, it doesn’t necessarily follow that he planned to eat them.
The fact is that Iran wouldn’t have a nuclear program were it not for Russia. Moscow began constructing Iran’s nuclear facilities over global objections. Iran’s repeated threats to wipe Israel from the map using imagery like ‘a blinding flash’ and ‘instant destruction’ have left little doubt in anyone’s mind of Iran’s intentions, should it obtain the means to accomplish them.
All the Russian diplomatic posturing and Iranian bellicose rhetoric aside, it is an absolute certainty that Israel will not permit Iran to get nuclear weapons.
To do so would be an act of national suicide. The Israelis understood that in 1981 when it sent warplanes to destroy the Osirek nuclear facility being constructed by Saddam Hussein.
Last year, the IDF destroyed a Syrian nuclear facility being secretly constructed by Syria and the North Koreans. And Israel has not been shy about its position regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Shaul Mofaz, a former Israeli defense minister who is now a deputy prime minister, warned in a recent interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot that Israel might have no choice but to attack.
“If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack,” Mofaz said in the interview published on June 6, the day after the exercise ended.
“Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable.”
An Israeli attack on Iran would have to overcome a number of challenges that didn’t exist in its operations against Osirek or the Syrian facilities.
In the first place, most of Iran’s critical nuclear program infrastructure is located underground. The Iranians have constructed huge underground facilities, protected by hundreds of feet of concrete and earth and interconnected by a network of long, concrete and steel-reinforced tunnels.
Even if Israel knows where all the entrances are, the actual facilities could literally be miles away and underground. And it is unlikely that Israel knows where they ALL are — Iran has been at this for a decade or more.
Thanks to Moscow, Iran boasts one of the most sophisticated and extensive air defense networks in the world. In addition to what is already in place, the Russians are sending highly advanced SA-20 surface-to-air missiles to protect Iranian airspace, together with two sets of advanced Russian-made radar systems that will greatly enhance Iran’s ability to detect low-altitude aircraft.
According to Western assessments, once Iran has both these systems fully deployed, Iranian airspace will be virtually impenetrable, which increases the pressure on Israel to act before the systems go fully online.
The SA-20 missile system, while not yet tested in combat, is believed to be the most deadly surface-to-air anti-aircraft system ever developed.
For Israel, it could well be a case of now or never.
This sounds tantalizingly like Ezekiel’s description of the Gog-Magog War. Ezekiel’s prediction names both Russia and Iran as participants in a war that culminates on the mountains of Israel. It sounds like it, but only peripherally.
In Ezekiel’s prophecy, Gog-Magog invades Israel, not the other way around. At the time of the invasion, the world is taken by surprise. Nobody will be surprised at an Israeli strike on Natanz – not even the Iranians.
Israel is, at the time of the Gog-Magog invasion, a “land of unwalled villages” enjoying a period of peaceful co-existence with her neighbors. Israel is currently constructing security walls, not taking them down.
Israel has not known a moment’s peaceful coexistence with her neighbors since 1948, and never has she been in greater peril than she faces today.
Here is what we can know from the Bible. This isn’t the Gog-Magog War, although it could well be setting the stage for it. Moreover, we can know that Israel survives no matter what, and Iran survives intact to participate in Ezekiel’s invasion.
However, since Iran is merely a player in the Gog-Magago scenario, and not the instigator, it is reasonable to assume that Iran is not, at the time of the invasion, a nuclear power.
It is equally reasonable to assume that, since Russia is also a participant in Gog-Magog, that Russia will step back from the brink of any nuclear confrontation with the West over Iran.
Israel may indeed attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, but the Bible precludes the outbreak of nuclear war between Israel and Iran — both have future appointments with destiny. At the time of the Gog-Magog War, Iran is not a nuclear power, but it plays a major supporting role in a massive land invasion.
What it suggests is this. Whatever happens now, Israel has to win and Iran has to lose. If a conflict does break out, it will have to take place soon, before Iran can get its air defenses in place. It will be quick, and it will be clean, and then, it will be over.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” (2nd Peter 1:19)
As I ponder this, I am struck with renewed awe at the thought that we have such foreknowledge at our fingertips. And the confidence that foreknowledge inspires.
“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)
The Bible IS true, and it meets every challenge to its outline of future history in ways nobody can predict, but in the end, it is the Bible’s scenario that moves forward, leaving its challengers in the dust.
Which means, should Israel and Iran come to blows, Israel WILL win. It can’t turn out any other way.