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US Troops In 'Israel'

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Americans to man Israeli defences Bush assures Sharon that Washington will give better protection against Iraqi attack than it did in 1991 Chris McGreal in
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 2, 2003
      Americans to man Israeli defences

      Bush assures Sharon that Washington will give better protection
      against Iraqi attack than it did in 1991

      Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
      Saturday December 28, 2002
      The Guardian

      The United States has sent the first of what is expected to be a
      1,000-strong force to Israel to bolster defences against missile
      attacks ahead of a possible war in Iraq.
      The deployment of the troops and a number of Patriot missile
      batteries follows Ariel Sharon's threat to attack Iraq if his
      country is hit with chemical or biological weapons.

      President Bush has sought to prevent Israel embroiling itself in any
      conflict by assuring Mr Sharon that there will be no repeat of the
      1991 Gulf war when Iraq was able to launch 39 missiles against
      Israel, killing two people, injuring 200 and spreading considerable
      panic.

      But the Israelis are preparing anyway with mass vaccinations against
      smallpox, simulated chemical attacks, and air raid drills in
      schools.

      "We have taken all the measures necessary to protect the population
      of Israel. We are ready and prepared for every eventuality. If
      Israel is attacked, it will know how to protect its citizens," Mr
      Sharon said on state television.

      Officially, the American troops are in Israel on an exercise called
      Jennifer Cobra to integrate the Patriots with a new Israeli missile
      system, the Arrow. The manoeuvres begin next week and last a
      fortnight.

      But once the exercise is over, the US soldiers will remain in Israel
      until the crisis over Iraq is resolved.

      Unlike the previous Gulf war, when the Patriot missile's
      effectiveness was wildly exaggerated by the US military, Israel's
      first line of defence will be the Arrow - a more advanced missile,
      but untested in combat. The Patriots, said to be improved, will be
      used to shoot down Iraqi Scuds.

      The Americans also plan to station a destroyer, USS Aegis, off the
      Israeli coast. Its long-range radar and short-range missiles would
      provide a third line of defence.

      Critics of the government are accusing Mr Sharon of overstating the
      threat to Israel - with claims that Saddam Hussein has smuggled
      chemical and biological weapons into neighbouring Syria, and that
      the Palestinians are preparing a fresh wave of attacks against
      civilians in support of the Iraqi leader - to distract public
      attention from a deepening political corruption scandal ahead of
      next month's general election.

      Mr Sharon's opponents voice their scepticism in private for fear of
      being accused of undermining national security, but they scoff at
      the prime minister's claims of a greater threat to Israel than
      during the last Gulf war. US and British diplomats are also
      sceptical of the claims.

      In practice, Israeli officials believe Iraqi Scuds are less likely
      to strike the Jewish state than in 1991 for a number of reasons.
      President Saddam has fewer missiles; Israel's defence system is far
      more advanced; and, after Mr Sharon warned that he would retaliate
      against any non-conventional attack, the Americans have made a
      higher priority of ensuring Israel's security than during the last
      conflict.

      Israeli officials say the Americans have laid plans for an early
      attack on western Iraq, the principal launch pad for missiles
      against Israel.

      The director of Israeli military intelligence, Major General Aharon
      Zeevi Farkash, has noted that Iraq is making far fewer threats
      against Israel than during the 1991 war.

      If an attack does come, Israel's homefront command says civilians
      will get a seven-minute warning, twice as long as during the
      previous Gulf war thanks to new satellite technology. The Israelis
      say they can also predict a missile's intended target more
      accurately.

      Civilians will be warned by a siren sounded for one minute across
      the country. The words "Iron Wall" will be broadcast repeatedly on
      radio and television. People will then be expected to put on gas
      masks and head for public air raid shelters or to sealed rooms they
      have been encouraged to prepare in their homes.

      ยท Palestinians attacked the Jewish settlement of Otniel in the West
      Bank yesterday, killing four people and wounding eight others. One
      of the attackers was also killed.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,865750,00.html
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