Israel Vows Retaliation
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.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress on Thursday that it would be in Israel's "overwhelming best interests" not to intervene if the United States went to war with Iraq.
The Pentagon is also planning military steps to reduce the Iraqi threat to Israel and obviate the need for an Israeli retaliatory strike. Israeli officials say they have been told by their American counterparts that the United States will mount an intensive campaign to destroy Iraqi missile launchers in western Iraq, an operation that would almost certainly require the use of American commandos in addition to airstrikes.
American officials have also assured the Israelis that they will receive adequate warning of when the American attack will begin, though American officials have not said how much notice they will provide.
The United States has also quietly installed a data link to rush early warning of Iraqi missile launchings to Israeli commanders. The information would be gathered by American satellites and sent by the United States to Israel's Air Force headquarters, Israeli officials said. From there, the warning data could be sent to Israel's antimissile batteries and Israel's Home Front Command, which has responsibility for civil defense, as well as to Israeli air commanders.
Current and former Israeli officials said the arrangement provided additional warning time and was one reason why Israel had a better chance of defending against an Iraqi missile attack and protecting its civilians than during the 1991 war.
Still, most Israelis believe that the nation needs to retaliate if it is attacked, as does the Israeli leadership. According to a recent poll by the newspaper Yediot Ahronot, 70 percent of Israelis believe that the nation should retaliate if it is subjected to the same sort of Scud attacks it endured in 1991; those attacks, on 17 days spread over five weeks, killed two Israelis in direct hits, and four others suffocated in their gas masks.
"There are many more options now for Israel to be defended," said David Ivri, Israel's former ambassador to Washington and a senior defense official during the gulf war.
"The Iraqi side is less effective," he said, and experts think that Iraq has far fewer Scuds than it did the last time. Also, he added, "we have better early warning combined with the U.S.
"But there is also much more of a tendency to respond this time," Mr. Irvi said. "Otherwise, we will lose deterrence. We did not retaliate in 1991. If we do not retaliate another time, neighboring countries may think we do not have confidence in our ability."
While there is broad political and popular support for retaliation, not all Israelis believe that the policy is necessary in every case. Some officials suggested that it might be difficult to ignore American appeals for restraint if a Scud missile landed in an empty lot or off the coast of Israel. And some Israeli experts argue that there is little the Israelis could do to hurt Saddam Hussein's government that the Americans would not be doing already.
"When you retaliate, you really need to do something that is impressive," said Shai Feldman, who runs the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. "It is not that easy to do something impressive when a much larger American bombing capability is already in operation."
But the current debate in Israel turns more on arguments about deterrence and the need to demonstrate national resolve than strictly military considerations.
The debate over retaliation is an echo of the gulf war. The concern then was that Mr. Hussein's government would try to draw Israel into the conflict in an effort to split the American and Arab military coalition. The Israeli military drew up plans to intervene, including an operation to send Israeli commandos into western Iraq to destroy Scud launchers. The United States urged Israel to stay out of the war and promised to neutralize the Scud threat.
The Scud is a surface-to-surface missile, which Iraq used during its war with Iran , as well as against Israel and targets in the Persian Gulf in 1991. It was very inaccurate and sometimes broke up in flight. But Iraq wanted the missiles to terrorize and demoralize its foes. A Scud killed dozens of American soldiers at a barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, in 1991.
American and British efforts to stop or disrupt the Iraqi Scud firings were only marginally successful. To encourage Israel to stay out of the fight, the United States sent American-manned Patriot antimissile batteries to Israel and allowed the Israeli military to pick bombing targets for allied airstrikes.
The 1991 war established a pattern of military cooperation between Israel and the United States, which has been expanded. The establishment of the early warning data link early warning data is one example.
Considering the ineffectiveness of the Iraqi Scuds in 1991 is it worth for Israel to fuck up America's chances to defeat Saddam? 2 people actually killed, a normal day in road traffic alone kills more people. If he's willing to risk exploding the Middle-East for the sake of Israel's reputation then the man is indeed a greater danger for peace then Saddam ever could be. What could be the beneft for Israel if the current regimes in Egypt and Jordan are replaced with crazed fundamentalist ones? He's starting to act more and more like one of those villains in a Tom Clancy/Larry Bond technothriller. He's already facing a front in the occupied territories, let alone if he opened one with other Arab regimes. Only a fool wages a war on 2 fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the kingdom of idiots wages a war on multiple fronts.
He must either be mad or this is a clever ploy to get some new military hardware from America and a free hand in the occupied territories in exchange to do nothing if attacked.
Well In general I agree that I don't see Sharone logic completely in light of the fact that there won't be much room for them to do anything since the USA will be there. Iraq's Scud capability is much smaller though than it was in 1991. I'd say you'd only see about 5 to 10 Scuds at Israel at most. In fact, because Saddam has few of these left, he probably will not want to use them until the very last moment. That is if, they have not been destroyed by that time.
A point you haven't considered
Not a fan of Sharone at all but the concern in Israel at this point isn't about Scuds. It's chemical or biological attacks that most are worried about.
I hate discussing the the situation in Israel because I'm sympathetic to the plights of both the Palestinian people and the Israelis. It's the suicide bombers and Sharone that I loathe.
Unless Saddam has delivered Bio/Chem weapons to terrorist, his only ability to deliver Bio/Chem weapons onto Israel's soil is through Scud Missiles. The terrorist are a more likely root in this case. The problem is that it will not be clear, at least at first, that Iraq was behind the terrorist act, where as with Scuds you can track their launch from Iraq to Israel.
I agree with Matthew_Page2000.
This whole subject makes me queezy.
First off Sharon has said that if Iraq were to launce at Israel, Israel would retaliate.
I put this question to you - if your next door neighbor walks up to you and slaps you in the face because he does not like another person you know, do you just stand there idle?
No you do not.
Israel has every right to 'fight back.'
Concerning starting a war on two fronts, what other war has Israel started? If you are talking about the West Bank and Gaza, has Israel started a war, or has it responded to hundreds of terrorist attacks that have occured on its soil?
I will take this a step further for all you pro-American military types out there (don't even think about it - I am American..). Israel is able to take out Saddam, and do anything America is planning to do in Iraq by itself without the help of the Americans. Due to its unpopular stance in the region, however, they have to sit with their hand s tied as they get killed by suicide bombers.
The following is the statement you will chastise me over:
Ouizy believes that the United States (with UN forces) should occupy The West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the major Israeli cities while Israel invades Iraq.
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