Will Iran's nukes only kill Jews?
That's the question Palestinians should be asking themselves. Because the answer is no.
There is no way to make a nuclear bomb that just kills Jews. There is no way to "wipe Israel off the map," as Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sworn to do in a nuclear armageddon, without wiping out the Palestinians, as well.
A nuclear fireball detonated over Jerusalem would kill a substantial fraction of the city's half-million Jews -- and the city's quarter-million Palestinians. But not only lives would be destroyed. Next to the Kaaba in Mecca, the most sacred site to Sunni Muslims in the world is the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, which comprise the Haram esh-Sharif, the noble sanctuary on top of Temple Mount.
A nuke would turn the noble sanctuary into radioactive dust. This is what Iran's terrorist leaders are threatening to do. So all you Palestinians, all you Sunni Muslims out there, wherever you are, get the picture: Wiping Israel off the map means wiping your sacred noble sanctuary off the map, as well. It's an inescapable package deal.
The Palestinians have more to fear from a nuclear attack on Israel than the Jews. Iran might be able to build a handful of firecracker fission (atom bomb) nukes in the 10- to 20-kiloton range. Set any of these off in an above-ground airburst to maximize lethality, and the heat fries everyone within a mile radius. The neutrons travel not much more and gamma rays much less, killing folks with radiation poisoning within a radius of less than 2 miles.
In other words, the radiation effects are very localized. Anyone 5 miles away would just get a sunburn. The greatest danger more than a few miles away is flying glass from blown-out windows caused by the shock wave. (Avoiding the flying glass was the purpose of duck-and-cover practice of diving under school desks back in the '50s.)
Any effective nuking of Israel would thus have to score multiple detonations in Israel's population centers. There is no way to do this in a country the size of New Jersey without devastating the Palestinian population at least as much as the Israeli.
In any nuclear attack on Israel, Iran would have to make a choice: Use its handful of bombs to hit the population centers or hit the Zechariah nuclear missile base southeast of Tel Aviv. Iran cannot do both.
It will take multiple direct hits to incapacitate Zechariah, collapsing the underground tunnels for the TELs (transporter erector launchers). These launch the Jericho-2 missile with a range of 2,000 miles carrying a nuke far more lethal than an Iranian firecracker.
Israel has at least 200, and possibly as many as 400, nuclear warheads, many of which are fusion (hydrogen bombs) in the range of 150 kilotons, many times more destructive than whatever the Iranians come up with. The Jericho-2 can easily reach Tehran or any other location in Iran. A nuclear strike by Iran upon Israel could precipitate the nuclear retaliatory annihilation of Iran.
The mullahs need to realize the name of Zechariah was chosen with a purpose for Israel's missile base. It is Hebrew for: "God remembers with a vengeance."
It is Sunni Muslims who need to be terrified of a nuclear Iran. And indeed, Ahmadinejad's wipe-off-the-map bluster may be misdirection, for he must know that Israel and the Jews would survive his attack, and he and his country would not survive theirs. It is then more likely that Ahmadinejad intends to be an 800-pound Shiite nuclear gorilla, pushing around the Sunnis of the Middle East.
Sunni Saudi Arabia -- hated by Iran's mullacracy -- would be defenseless. So would Sunni Jordan -- hated by the mullahs. So would Dubai and the emirates. So would Kuwait. Iran is going to aim its nukes at them. They either become colonial subjects of Iran -- or (get ready for this) make a deal with Israel and be placed under the protection of an Israeli nuclear umbrella.
They could try this with another nuclear neighbor, and a Sunni Muslim one at that: Pakistan. But Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is devoted to protection from India, and it is limited (around 25 or so low-kiloton fission warheads). An Israeli umbrella may prove an irresistible option.
"We can protect you from Iran," should be Israel's message to Sunni Arabs from Ramallah to Riyadh. "The only price for our protection is peace between us."
Jack Wheeler is the editor of To The Point at www.tothepointnews.com.