ShareThis Page
Middle East

Israel preparing for possible Iraqi strike in response to U.S.-led offensive

| Tuesday, March 18, 2003

JERUSALEM -- Israel's military on Monday instructed Israelis to acquire all the equipment they need to protect themselves in case of an Iraqi attack.

A statement issued by the Home Front Command said Israelis "should complete their preparations and acquisition of insulation materials and other equipment for sealed spaces."

The statement stopped short of telling Israelis to prepare a sealed room in their house and said people "must not open their gas mask kits without specific instructions" to do so.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said earlier yesterday that final instructions about preparing sealed rooms will be given when Israel learns that a U.S.-led offensive against Saddam Hussein is about to begin.

"As of now, we do not have information about the timing of the beginning of the battle," Mofaz said as he answered questions on an Internet chat on the Maariv newspaper's Web site.

The conflict "will begin soon," Mofaz said. "When we know the date, we will update the public."

Mofaz added that according to Israeli intelligence, Saddam does not have missiles deployed within range of Israel and the probability of an attack against Israel is low.

However, if Iraq strikes, he said, "Israel will know how to defend its citizens."

In a weekend television interview, Mofaz indicated Israel's response might include a counterattack.

Israel TV reported later yesterday that the army would mobilize some reserve soldiers in anti-aircraft units and the Home Front Command. The military refused to comment on the report. Israel TV also said Israeli air force planes are on the runways and ready to move at a moment's notice.

The British and Japanese embassies yesterday urged their citizens to leave Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip because of the approaching battle.

Israelis were first issued gas masks and ordered citizens to seal rooms in their houses before the 1991 Gulf War, when the United States led a broad coalition of forces to expel Saddam's forces from Kuwait.

Making good on Saddam's threats to hit Israel in retaliation, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. Most landed in the Tel Aviv area, carrying conventional explosive warheads that caused damage but few casualties.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me