Israel: September 6, 2002

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10.0pt"> Israel has made it explicitly clear: if Iraq lands a missile on Israel, Israel will strike back against Iraq. In 1991, Israel held back any retaliation rather than upset the Coalition's Arab partners. That's no longer an issue, and Israel says it needs to deliver a tough response for broader political reasons. Israel is far better prepared for an Iraqi missile attack today than in 1991. Every citizen has a gas mask, and every new home (and most old ones) now have a sealed "safe room" to hold the family in the event of a chemical weapons attack. Israeli Arrow-2 missiles stand ready to stop missile attacks, and Israel's new Ofek spy satellite is already looking for Iraqi launch trucks. Israeli plans to hunt down missile launchers are well practiced. Saddam says he has no missiles remaining, but most sources think he has at least 20 old Scuds and perhaps two or three more modern Soviet-built battlefield missiles hidden for an emergency. The greatest concern is that Israel will use the distraction of a US invasion of Iraq to disarm the Palestinian Authority (sure to be a bloody move) and force Arafat out of power and into exile.--Stephen V Cole

Helicopter gunships fired missiles at targets in Gaza. This was in response to the violence yesterday.

 

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