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>Israel Faxx
>JN Jan. 29, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 17

Israel Issues Tough Warning to Iraq

Israel, responding to a U.N. official's warning that Baghdad has enough biological material to "blow away Tel Aviv," said Wednesday an Iraqi attack would draw strong Israeli retaliation. "Surely Iraq must know that it will not pay to attack Israel and that Israel has all the means necessary to make such an attack very, very dangerous for Iraq," said David Bar-Illan, a senior aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. U.N. weapons inspection chief Richard Butler was quoted Tuesday, saying that Iraq had sufficient biological agents such as anthrax or botulin toxin to strike a death blow against Tel Aviv.

Israel Stops Short of Threatening Iraq

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv) & IINS News Service

Israel is expressing concern about the increased tension in the dispute between Iraq and the United Nations. The head of the UN weapons inspection team says Iraq has enough biological weapons material to destroy the population of Tel Aviv.

Senior Israeli Cabinet ministers discussed the potential threat from Iraq. And Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordecai later briefed members of parliament. He said Israel is watching carefully.

"We are trying to understand what is the aim of the United States, and what will be the reaction of Iraq, and we will do everything that will be necessary for our security in our country."

The Iraqi threat is not just theory. In 1991, when the United States led a coalition in an offensive after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the Iraqi leader responded quickly by firing 39 Scud missiles at Israel.

A member of the Israeli parliament, Zvi Weinberg, heard the assessment from the defense minister, and after checking other sources said he came to this conclusion.

"There is a great likelihood, at least, that the United States has already decided to hit Iraq within two weeks time, and there is a possibility, without going into panic, but we have to be aware of the fact that there is a possibility that he will repeat his step of the Gulf War, and we have to be ready for it."

Israel is stopping just short of threatening Iraq in return. A top aide to Israel's prime minister warned that Israel has the means to make an Iraqi attack more costly to Iraq than to Israel. UN Chief Weapons Inspector Richard Butler stated that the Iraqis do have anthrax and other biological warfare. But his team's limitations have prevented them from knowing the exact substances, amounts or locations.

Butler stated that non-conventional substances might be stored inside warheads, drop-tanks, or in other locations deemed off-limits to the UN inspectors.

Israeli officials reiterated the need for gas masks at this time, as a security measure, but stressed the point that the country is not facing a crisis and there is no need for panic.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi press has lashed out against Butler, calling him worse than the United States. They labeled him a "Zionist." The Iraqi media also accused Butler and the US of torpedoing Russian efforts to reach a political settlement to the conflict, claiming that Butler is pushing for the military option.

Knesset Gas Mask Supply Found Deficient

By IINS News Service

When Knesset Speaker Dan Tichon checked the warehouse Wednesday to see the status of the gas masks on standby, he was somewhat surprised to see that many gas masks were missing. The masks were taken out over one-month ago for replacement and have not found their way back. After a few calls, all the masks designated for the Knesset warehouse were back on the shelves by day's end.

Iranian Officials Call for Israel's Total Destruction

During the annual commemoration of "Jerusalem Day" at the weekend, Iranian officials called for the complete destruction of Israel, Yediot Ahronot reports.

Speaking at the festivities, during which Iran expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause, former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani said he was certain the day would come when the "useless Zionist entity" would be no more.

Iranian authorities published an official statement calling on Muslims throughout the world to combine their resources in order to support the Palestinians and bring about the "complete destruction of the State of Israel."

Protecting US Troops in the Gulf

By IINS News Service

The Chicago-based EmergencyNet News Agency reports that US Defense Department Kenneth Bacon said the Pentagon is looking to improve its capability to defend its 24,400 troops in the Persian Gulf region against chemical and biological attack, should the standoff with Iraq turn to military action.

Bacon said that should Iraq try to hit allied forces or US with chemical or biological weapons, the US response would be "decisive and devastating." To help protect US forces against chemical or biological attacks, the Pentagon is considering sending in special teams, as well as detectors, decontamination units and specialized protective gear. Medical defenses to help troops deals with such attacks also are being examined.

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