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>Israel Faxx
>JN Feb. 23, 1998, Vol. 6, No. 34

Iraqi Crisis Update

By IINS News Service

"If the Americans bomb Iraq, Arab nationalists will strike back," said Akeel Moustafa Darweesh, 42, a former captain in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

"When we empty the Arab world of stooges and puppets it will no longer be possible for American troops to come through the Suez Canal or use Arab land as bases and attack our people. The US has been given a safe haven in the Arab world. That will not last," said Darweesh from his base in a Baghdad suburb.

Extremist groups inside the PLO Authority have reportedly issued warnings of a violent backlash. Darweesh said the first targets of any reprisal attacks would be against Arab countries perceived as being "soft on Zionists and the American plot to keep the region permanently unstable."

Jordan Crown Prince Hassan recently said that such terrorist acts could plunge the region into a conflagration. The prince said, "The greatest danger presented by the American threat to bomb Iraq is the Balkanization of the country. It could be torn into several pieces, and obscure groups could get hold of the very weapons that the Americans and UN say Saddam is manufacturing. That, in turn, could drag Iraq's neighbors into conflicts all over the place."

Will Anthrax Antibiotics be Distributed?

By Mark Lavie (VOA-Tel Aviv)

Israel's Cabinet is considering distributing antibiotics to the people against the possibility of a biological weapons attack from Iraq. Israelis are showing concern bordering on panic.

Israel's leaders debated the pros and cons of distributing antibiotics to the people, at least those in potential target areas for Iraqi missile attacks, like the population centers of Tel Aviv and Haifa. The antibiotics would cure anthrax. Bacteria that causes anthrax is thought to be Iraq's main biological weapon.

Among those in favor is Israeli President Ezer Weizman. The Israeli president said -- if it's possible, why not distribute antibiotics? The government has to decide, and it cannot make a big mistake. It is like an insurance policy, so there is nothing wrong with it.

Those who oppose passing out the anthrax medicine say it would be an unnecessary step that would only contribute to panic among the Israeli people.
Most Israelis got their first gas masks before the 1991 Gulf war. When they spent many hours in rooms sealed off with plastic sheeting and tape. Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel then, all with conventional warheads. Israelis have been called to gas mask distribution points several times since then to exchange their masks and other parts of their survival kit. But most ignored the orders until the Iraq situation heated up again.

The scenes of panicked Israelis pounding on the doors of overwhelmed gas mask stations, and snapping up huge quantities of plastic sheeting to seal rooms against chemical or biological attacks leads to opposite conclusions among Israeli planners when it comes to distributing antibiotics. Israeli Health Minister Yehoshua Matza prefers to wait until after an attack.

He said -- the people should relax, because the government has all that is necessary to deal with any craziness that might break out in this area.

Others say the scenes of near-riots at gas mask stations are nothing compared to the panic that would result if there were a biological attack on Israel -- and if only then the government distributed antibiotics. But doctors warn the anthrax medicine could have serious side effects and even if they are told to wait until it is necessary, some Israelis would endanger themselves by swallowing the medicine as soon as they get it.

A member of parliament who was a senior commander in the Israeli army worries about the message Israel is sending to the world. He said scenes of panic over gas masks, plastic sheeting and medicine show humiliation and fear -- a public admission of defeat before Saddam Hussein does anything.

Israelis Get Blasted at Anthrax Party

By IINS News Service

With the country gripped with angst over the possibility of an Iraqi biological missile attack, young Israelis have found a novel way to relieve the tension - they got blasted at an Anthrax Party thrown by one of Tel-Aviv's trendiest nightclubs.

Hundreds of revelers partied at the KU club, dancing with carefree abandon under a macabre 15-foot mock Scud missile, embellished with psychedelic designs and suspended by steel cables above the dance floor.

Hundreds of partygoers thronged until four in the morning to get into the club, where sexy dancers wore gas masks and cavorted in erotic death throes to the strains of air raid sirens, before performing mock fellatio on a Saddam Hussein lookalike.

"I'm going head to head with Saddam," explained club owner Meir Lavi. "We have to show that we are not afraid. And anyway, the situation is so absurd all you can do is laugh about."

"We might be under threat of imminent annihilation but that just makes it even more important to have fun while we can," said partygoer Shirley Massano.

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