As Israel braces for possible war with Iran and its proxies, a new kind of conflict in which the civilian population will be a primary target for massive missile barrages, there are growing concerns about the military's ability to shield cities as well as its key bases.
In the 34-day 2006 war Israel fought with Hezbollah of Lebanon, Tehran's main surrogate in the Levant, the Shiite movement fired some 4,000 rockets, supplied by Iran and Syria, into Israel as far south as the port city of Haifa, at a rate of around 150 per day.
That was the deepest Hezbollah had ever penetrated into the Jewish state. It was a wake-up call for Israelis that in future their enemies could target the whole country.
Amos Harel, defense correspondent of the daily Haaretz, noted a few days ago that Israel's leaders understood that "the enemy will continue to view the Israeli civilian population as the central weak point and it is there that it will focus most of its attacks."
In 2006, Hezbollah possessed an estimated 12,000 rockets of various calibers, most of them of limited range and destructive power. Last weekend, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that Hezbollah now has some 45,000 rockets and missiles, thousands more than previously estimated and enough to sustain daily fire for months.
According to military analysts, some of those weapons are capable of hitting Tel Aviv, Israel's largest metropolis, the industrial heartland in the center of the country and as far south as the Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev Desert.