Skip to comments.Israel Tells the U.S. It Will Retaliate if Attacked by Iraq
Posted on 09/21/2002 3:02:55 PM PDT by ex-Texan
Israel Tells the U.S. It Will Retaliate if Attacked by Iraq
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
JERUSALEM, Sept. 21 Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has informed the Bush administration that he plans to strike back if Iraq attacks Israel, according to Israeli and Western officials.
Mr. Sharon's statements, made privately to senior American officials in recent weeks, represent a major shift in Israeli thinking since the 1991 Persian Gulf war, when 39 Iraqi Scud missiles struck without any Israeli response.
The prime minister's position reflects a widespread belief among Israeli politicians and generals that Arab leaders perceived Israel's restraint in 1991 as weakness. Throughout his military and political career, Mr. Sharon has always held that any attack on Israel must be promptly and powerfully punished.
"I don't think there is a scenario in which Israel will get hit and not strike back," a senior Western official said. "I think the evolving strategy will be commensurate response."
Mr. Sharon's position has significant implications for the Pentagon, which fears that an Israeli entry would stir up Arab public opinion and make it harder for the Pentagon to maintain cooperation from the Arab states where Washington hopes to base American forces
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At what? Volleyball? Tiddlywinks? Offence? Defense? I would rate them number one or two at defense. The US obviously couldn't stop a significant attack on our soil. I would rate the US number 3 or 4 at homeland defense. You need to compare apples to apples.
Israel is not an offensive (expeditionary) force, as is the US.
Force ratios between the IDF and PLA? LOL! (Israel has nukes. That would be a force multiplier, even if never used.) In what context? Your question indicates your lack of understanding.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002 Fox News http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,60836,00.html
JERUSALEM Israel says there is one sure thing amid the uncertainties over how the U.S.-Iraq showdown will play out: if attacked by Iraq, the Jewish state will respond.
The Palestinians fear Israel might also exploit the turmoil of war for a punishing strike against them, such as expelling their leader, Yasser Arafat.
Both sides agree there won't be a replay of the 1991 Gulf War.
Israel says it is far better prepared for an Iraqi attack, including with chemical or biological weapons, than in 1991, when it was hit by 39 Iraqi Scud missiles with conventional warheads. At the time, under stern U.S. pressure, Israel did not retaliate.
Israel now has the Arrow, a sophisticated anti-missile system, and its own spy satellite, the Ofek. Air force squadrons have intensified training, reportedly including delivery of a nuclear counterstrike to an Iraqi "dirty bomb."
Most Israeli civilians have been given gas masks. Health workers are being inoculated against smallpox. A standard feature in homes and apartments built in the last decade is a "safe room" with metal doors that can easily be sealed to keep out poisons.
"The people of Israel are the most protected in the world against chemical or biological attack," said Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh, a former general.
A U.S. attack on Iraq is widely seen as inevitable, and so is an Iraqi strike against Israel, but military analysts disagree on whether Saddam would use conventional or non-conventional weapons.
Shlomo Aronson, a political scientist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, said Saddam never used chemical weapons outside his own territory, though he once employed them against invading Iranian troops. "It shows that he is very conscious of the limited use of non-conventional weapons," Aronson said.
However, Amatzia Baram, an Iraq watcher at Haifa University, said the stakes were higher for the Iraqi leader now because the goal is ousting him, not just subduing him.
"When (U.S.) troops are in and around Baghdad, he (Saddam) has no choice. He knows he is doomed and then has to push the button," Baram said.
Israel says that this time, it will strike back.
"What I told the Americans, and I repeat it: `Don't expect us to continue to live with the process of restraint," Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said last week. "If they hit us, we reserve the right of response."
While Israel promises to coordinate with the Americans, it may not be swayed this time to hold back. During the Gulf War, the United States, trying to preserve the Arab coalition against Saddam, insisted that Israel not strike back.
Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens revealed this month that in 1991, Israeli commandos were training for a ground raid to destroy missile launchers in western Iraq. The war ended abruptly, before the mission could be carried out, Arens wrote.
Israeli officials refuse to talk about the nature of Israel's response, but the expectation is that the payback would be in kind.
Military analyst Zeev Schiff wrote in the Haaretz daily that while the probability of an Israeli nuclear counterstrike is extremely low, it's one of the scenarios in extensive Israeli air force maneuvers.
Israel has reportedly asked Washington for advance warning of a U.S. attack on Iraq. It also requested that at the start of the war, U.S. troops focus on destroying missile launchers in western Iraq, the only area from which the rockets can reach Israel.
It is not clear how many missiles Saddam still has, with estimates ranging from about 20 to several dozen. Iraq also has chemical and biological weapons, and Israel says it has new evidence that production is being accelerated.
Despite the dangers to Israel, 57 percent of Israelis believe a U.S. attack on Iraq is a good idea, according to a recent survey.
Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said that a delay "will only give him (Saddam) more of an opportunity to accelerate his program of weapons of mass destruction."
The Palestinians, who backed Iraq in the Gulf War, said they oppose any attack on Iraq.
There are widespread sympathies for Iraq in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where Saddam is seen as one of the Palestinians' staunchest defenders in the Arab world. Iraq pays $25,000 to the family of each Palestinian suicide bomber who strikes Israel and has given lower stipends to others killed and wounded in the conflict with Israel.
Arafat today does not openly side with Iraq, after his 1991 alliance with Saddam against Kuwait led to the expulsion of thousands of Palestinians from Gulf countries.
The Palestinian Authority, which is barely functioning, says it doesn't have the means to prepare for the event that an Iraqi attack on Israel, especially with non-conventional weapons, inadvertently hits Palestinian areas.
"We can't distribute medical injections for children in the Palestinian areas, so how can we prepare for any new developments?" said Palestinian Labor Minister Ghassan Khatib.
Since June, Israeli troops have been occupying most West Bank towns to try to prevent terror attacks on Israeli civilians.
Gissin was evasive when asked whether Israel would provide gas masks and other protective gear to Palestinians, should troops still be occupying West Bank towns during a U.S.-Iraq war. "When we reach that stage, we will find a solution," Gissin said.
In 1991, Israel clamped a curfew on Palestinians in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip for the seven weeks of the Gulf War but did not give them gas masks.
Many Palestinians fear that this time around, Israel would exploit the tumult of a war, with the world's attention turned elsewhere, to carry out a punishing strike against them.
Khatib said the Palestinian Authority is worried that Israel "may dare to do things that the world had prevented it from doing until now," such as expelling Arafat.
Gissin would only say that Israel wants to bring an end to terror attacks, but that "we have no war with the Palestinian people."
PLA's army is clearly huge. You underestimate the strength in numbers. While force multipliers are helpful, having a 1000:1 ratio is not. IDF does not have tactical nukes. Most sources report that the nuclear devices are fighter based or missile warheads in the 20Kt range.
Regarding your characterization of homeland defense, that's really silly. After all, there are no known military threats to our borders in North America.
Whether or not you are looking at "offensive" vs. "defensive" activity, the analytic point is secondary to the primary issue and the issue is whether or not Israel should intervene once our forces are in action.
I say no.
Let them put that in their hookahs and smoke it.
IMHO, if the war broadend beond Iraq, the US and UK will not be able to handle it without Israel's involvment. And... I think we are counting on it.
Personally I was wondering about the electromagnetic pulse consequences.
It feels satisfying to say "We'll turn Baghdad into GLASS!!!" (in the event of WOMD use), but it just doesn't work like that. Too much collateral damage.
What in the heck do you call September 11?
I read the thread. The whole canard about the #3 power is useless without context. I was trying to bring context to the armchair generals.
Who said the IDF doesn't have tactical nukes? They seem to have everything from MREs to H-bombs. I would be suprised if they didn't have everything they need.
Ok, the analytic point of the IDF being pretty ready to go aside, if anyone attacks a country, they should expect to get their @ss kicked by the country they attacked. Regardless of whether the US is involved in the theater.
Iraqi doesn't have any airplanes (anymore)... Just 3 kites and 2 hot air ballons.
Please explain why this is militarily important (besides to talking heads on TV). Why should a nation under attack of arms care about what other people think? As I recall, France didn't help a young nation until General George proved that we would kick butt. Franklin didn't make much progress at coalition building until we PROVED that we would make it.
Yahoo reports a high temperature of 105+ with lows in the 76 range.
Prevailing winds seem to blow towards Iran, Afghanistan, and the central asian states. Some fallout would hit Pakistan, India, China and Bangladesh. So, this local use of nuclear weapons ends up polluting a few billion people.
Any coalition that includes ANY Islamic country is phony. Sooner or later we will figure out that it is Islam that is the enemy. Saudi Arabia, in my opinion, should be taken out before Iraq.
Of course. Who would bet on an untried horse?
French support for the American revolution was not an exercise in altruism. It was more like, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."
France was at war with England. Supporting the Rebel Colonists was in French self-interest.
Regarding your recollection of the American revolution, the analogy is weak and irrelevant to discussion of Israel's response to an Iraqi strike.
Exactly. Israel proved that they could kick butt during the 6 days war. What was the number of the armies arrayed against her? Millions of troops. On paper, anyway.
Israel has the right and the obligation to retaliate against anyone that either threatens or causes her harm. Period. Just like we do. Just like Kuwait does.