An assessment presented to the security cabinet last weekend anticipates three weeks of rocket and missile attacks from Lebanon and Syria, as well as probably Iran and – to a limited extent – Gaza, according to reports in the Israeli media.
The projected death toll, although significant in a country with a population of 7.8m, is lower than earlier estimates.
The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, last November sought to allay fears of a high number of civilian casualties in a conflict resulting from an attack on Iran. “There’s no chance in such a situation for 500,000 killed, not 5,000 or even 500 killed,” he told Israel Radio.
According to the recent security assessment, Iran’s conventional missile capabilities are limited.
On other fronts, Hamas has said it will not be drawn into a conflict between Israel and Iran, and Syria’s internal turmoil may hamper its ability to engage in an external conflict. However, Hezbollah in Lebanon would be expected to target missiles from its large arsenal towards Israel, which would in turn deploy its Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.
Some Israeli politicians have raised concerns about domestic preparations for a conflict, pointing to a shortage of gas masks and bomb shelters.