Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Teves 5763 - December 25, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Is Israel Ready for an Iraqi Attack?
by Yated Ne'eman Staff and M Plaut

Israeli leaders made an obvious effort to reassure the Israeli public that they are fully in control of the situation and prepared for an attack from Iraq. Both Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz pointedly told the press that the country is prepared and plans to respond if attacked. Nonetheless, no one should forget the ancient words of Tehillim (127:1): "If Hashem does not watch the city, the diligence of the watchman is for naught."

America seems to intend to attack Iraq, though it does not yet appear as certain that it will do so. The US is working through the United Nations, and the latter's inspectors are busily searching Iraq for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Iraq claims that it has none, and it is allowed none under the terms of the agreement that ended the first Gulf War more than a decade ago. Even if the US and its allies attack Iraq, it is not certain that Iraq will try to attack Israel or that it is able to attack Israel. The vast majority of its missiles were destroyed, though most suspect that Iraq still has some hidden away. It is far from certain that Iraq will be able to launch them.

Prime Minister Sharon, continuing in his style of realism topped with confidence and optimism, said that the danger of an Iraqi attack should not be ignored, but people must not be concerned as the country is well-prepared for all possible scenarios. "If the country is attacked it will know how to defend itself," Sharon said.

Sharon explained that Israel will not be involved in an attack on Iraq neither in planning nor in execution, but he acknowledged the campaign of US President George W. Bush, whom he called the world leader in the fight against terrorism.

Emphasizing the cooperation with the US that has been one of his strong points, Sharon described Israel's coordination with the US as unprecedented. "The United States is making every effort to prevent an attack on Israel," he said. "The danger exists and cannot be ignored, but all the necessary steps have been taken to prevent it. We have to tell the truth that there is a danger, but we've taken all measures to prevent it."

He noted that security forces, including the air force, are well-prepared and that the early warning systems are now far more advanced then they were during the Gulf War. He said preparations are under way on all fronts, and Israel is aware of the danger from non-conventional warheads in Iraqi hands.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, and senior IDF officers accompanied Sharon on Monday on a tour of the headquarters of the Home Front Command that was formed as one of the lessons of the last Gulf War and is responsible for management and defense of the civilian areas and population of Israel.

After consulting with the Home Front Command, funds from the Jewish community in the US raised through the United Jewish Communities were allocated for the purchase of rescue vehicles, firefighting equipment, protective masks and suits, and emergency equipment for hospitals.

Industry and Trade Minister Dan Naveh said his ministry has enough emergency food supplies for the entire population. The ministry has set up a number of special teams who will be deployed throughout the country and will ensure that there is a steady supply of food and protective equipment, such as plastic sheeting and tape, available if the need arises, he said.

The IDF Spokesman said Home Front Command, in coordination with the Education Ministry, is training teachers to instruct children on how to use protective masks. In preparation for a possible biological attack, it will soon be decided whether to vaccinate the entire population against smallpox.

The Health Ministry has already vaccinated more than 15,000 medical and rescue workers and has enough vaccine for the entire population of 6.6 million people. If necessary, the ministry can vaccinate everyone within days, according to a spokesman.

Defense Ministry Director-General Amos Yaron said there is only a very small chance that Saddam Hussein will use non- conventional weapons and called on the public not to panic.

Some Israelis are planning to sit out the attacks either abroad or in outlying areas of the country. There are reports that resorts in the north of Israel have taken deposits from individuals and organizations, reserving accommodations in the event of hostilities.

In the last war, Iraqi missiles were targeted at the Dan area where the population is almost exclusively Jewish, and residents of those areas feel the most threatened.


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