Newsletter : 8fax0218.txt
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>JN Feb. 18, 1998, Vol 6, Bo. 31
Foreign Press Begin to Arrive
Foreign journalists and their technical crews are beginning to
arrive in Israel, in anticipation of a US offensive against Iraq.
Many journalists who are permanently stationed in Israel, have left
for Jordan and other Gulf States, and are being replaced by others
who are arriving. The Government Press Office stated they expect
the arrivals of the media to continue as the crisis nears the end
of its diplomatic stage.
Hamas Threatens Retaliation Attacks on Israel
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
The militant Palestinian group Hamas has threatened to launch
attacks against Israel if the United States bombs Iraq.
In a statement distributed to news organizations, the military wing
of Hamas says it will not sit by quietly while any Arab or Muslim
country is attacked. It says it will respond in its "special way"
with attacks against Israel.
Hamas has been responsible for numerous suicide bombings in Israel
in recent years, causing the deaths of many dozens of people.
Hamas rejects the Israeli-Palestinian peace accords and seeks to
destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state.
Meanwhile, small but vocal groups of Palestinians are continuing
to demonstrate in favor of Iraq and against the US policy in the
Gulf, in spite of a ban on such demonstrations imposed by the
Palestinian Authority. Tuesday's protest involved several hundred
Palestinian students in autonomous Bethlehem.
A public opinion poll published this week indicates 94 percent of
Palestinians support Iraq in its dispute with the United Nations,
even though many are concerned about possible Palestinian
casualties if Iraq fires missiles at Israel. Some analysts believe
the Gulf crisis has made it politically more difficult for the
Palestinian Authority to cooperate with Israel and US mediators to
make progress in the peace process.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai caused something of a panic this
week when he urged people to buy war supplies, although he said
there is no need to seal rooms yet, as Israelis did during the 1991
Gulf war. Israelis from the Tel Aviv area have also reserved
virtually all the hotel rooms in the north and south of the country
in case hostilities break out. Iraq launched 39 Scud missiles at
Israel in 1991, mostly toward Tel Aviv, but none of them was armed
with chemical or biological weapons.
Times: "Britain Preparing for Chemical Attack"
By IINS News Service
The media in Britain report Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein wants to
strike out at Britain for supporting the US offensive in the Gulf,
and will attempt a terror attack, using chemical warfare within the
boundaries of Britain.
The "Times" is reporting that British intelligence services have
not ruled out the possibility of such an attack and special forces
are on alert for such an eventuality.
Security experts also warned Iraq could be preparing terrorist
attacks on American targets. Professor Paul Wilkinson of the Center
for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrew's
University said Saddam's agents had a track record of attacking
political opponents abroad, including a failed assassination
attempt on former US President George Bush in Kuwait in 1993.
Although the Iraqis could, in theory, try to use biological or
chemical agents -- such as the virus anthrax or VX nerve gas --
Wilkinson said this was unlikely. He said, "It is difficult to see
what they would gain from such an extreme attack because of the
dangers of a very major attack by the Allies, using more firepower
than they otherwise would."
More likely was the possibility of attacks on British or American
targets -- such as embassies or commercial entities -- in other
countries. The Iraqis could exploit their links with Middle East
terror groups, such as Abu Nidal, to carry out such attacks for
Senior officials have been meeting with researchers to discuss the
logistics involved in a chemical or biological warfare attack and
data is being collected regarding the poisons that may be used by
Secret Israel, Palestinian Talks Held
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
An Israeli newspaper reports secret high-level Israeli-Palestinian
talks have been held, aimed at finding a way forward in the stalled
Yediot Aharonot reports the latest meeting was Saturday night and
involved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the top two aides to
The newspaper says the meeting covered aspects of existing
agreements which have not been implemented, as well as what
Netanyahu considers the most important subject to discuss -- the
outline of a final peace accord.
Speaking on Israel Radio Tuesday, Netanyahu refused to confirm or
deny that secret talks are going on. But he said he is ready to
pursue all avenues to get the peace process going again.
Palestinian officials were not available for comment.
The peace process has been stalled for months, and some analysts
believe the Gulf crisis has made it politically more difficult for
the Palestinian Authority to cooperate with Israel and US
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