Recently, Israeli legislator Revital “Tally” Gotliv, a member of the Knesset representing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, has ignited a global debate with her provocative comments about the use of a “doomsday” weapon against Hamas and Palestine. Gotliv made these statements on X, a popular social media platform.
Gotliv’s Bold Assertion
In her posts, Gotliv raised eyebrows by suggesting that Israel should consider nuclear warfare as an alternative to deploying large ground forces in the ongoing conflict. Her specific reference to “Jericho” caught the attention of many, prompting a closer examination of Israel’s ballistic missile program.
The Jericho Missile Program
The Jericho missile program is an integral part of Israel’s military capabilities, dating back to the 1960s. This program, initially a collaboration with the French aerospace company Dassault, was named after the biblical city located in the West Bank. While it began as a joint effort, when France withdrew its support in 1969, Israel continued its independent development.
Jericho-1: The Early Model
The Jericho-1 was the first successful model to emerge from this program. It was operational during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, marking a significant milestone. The Jericho-1 had a weight of 6.5 tonnes, a length of 13.4 meters, and a diameter of 0.8 meters. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), this missile had a range of 500 kilometers (approximately 310.6 miles) and could carry a 1,000-kilogram payload. However, it had a 50 percent chance of hitting within a 1,000-meter radius of its target. The Jericho-1 was eventually retired in the 1990s.
Evolution of Jericho Missiles: Jericho-2
Israel continued to develop its ballistic missile capabilities, leading to the creation of the Jericho-2 in the late 1980s. This longer-range missile had a length of 15 meters and a diameter of 1.35 meters, while maintaining the same 1,000-kilogram payload capacity. The Jericho-2 had a range of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers (about 932 to 2,175 miles), significantly extending its reach.
The Jericho-3: An Intermediate-Range System
In subsequent years, Israel introduced the Jericho-3, an intermediate-range missile system. This model featured various improvements over its predecessors. It boasted a longer length than the Jericho-2 and a larger diameter of 1.56 meters. The Jericho-3 was reportedly tested in 2008 and entered service in 2011.
The single warhead of the Jericho-3 weighed approximately 750 kilograms (1,653 pounds) and had a range of 4,800 to 6,500 kilometers (about 2,983 to 4,039 miles). Its payload capacity extended to about 1,300 kilograms (2,866 pounds), making it a formidable part of Israel’s military arsenal.
Current Deployment Status
As of now, it remains unclear whether the Jericho-3 has been deployed by Israel during the ongoing retaliatory offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The situation surrounding the potential use of such advanced missile systems in the ongoing conflict is a topic of great concern and interest within the international community.