TEL AVIV (Jan. 7)
Israeli authorities are preparing for a serious escalation of the inti-fada if a Persian Gulf war breaks out, whether or not Iraq succeeds in involving Israel.
Police Minister Ronni Milo conferred Sunday with senior ministry officials regarding what measures would be necessary to maintain law and order in the administered territories in the event of an Iraqi attack.
The daily Yediot Achronot reported Monday that Palestinian leaders here and abroad are urging support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Their exhortations are repeated in the latest leaflets circulated by the so-called Unified National Leadership of the 3-year-old uprising.
Almost every Palestinian organization in the territories plans to “actively participate” in a Gulf war should it break out, Yediot Achronot reported.
They plan mass demonstrations and a wave of terrorism to tie down the Israel Defense Force as much as possible in the territories, the newspaper said.
On Sunday, Yediot quoted Palestinian activist Said Kna’an as saying, “Our enemy is the continuing status quo, and therefore war is in our favor.”
Kna’an said war in Iraq would elicit increasing acts of violence in the territories.
A victory for Saddam Hussein would bring a solution of the Palestinian problem closer, Kna’an maintained.
But even if Iraq is defeated, there will be a revolution of the Arab people against their leaders, creating an atmosphere more favorable to the Palestinian cause, he said.
Yediot’s military analyst, Ron Ben-Yishai, sees an increasing possibility that Israel will become involved in a confrontation with Iraq against its will.
This would be a new experience for Israel, he pointed out, inasmuch as in past regional wars and confrontations, the Palestinian population under Israeli rule has always remained passive.
ALREADY AN UPSURGE OF ATTACKS
“In practice, Israel is already actively involved in the Gulf crisis,” said Ben-Yishai, citing the sharp rise in attacks by Palestinians, the random stabbings, the Temple Mount riots and the recently increased incidence of infiltrations from Jordan.
“All these were affected directly and indirectly by the increased tension in the Gulf and by Palestinian support for Saddam Hussein,” the writer said.
“It is probable that if a military confrontation erupts in the Gulf, the Palestinians will not sit and watch,” said Ben-Yishai.
“Intifada activists in the territories also plan to assist Saddam Hussein by carrying out a wave of attacks and disturbances,” he said.
An attempt to engage the Israeli army in the territories “threatens Israel’s interior, in addition to the threat posed by Iraqi missiles and the Iraqi air force.”
While Ben-Yishai does not see Israel’s existence threatened, he predicts serious casualties.
Ben-Yishai recommended that the authorities advise Jewish settlers in the territories of what they can expect in the event of a Gulf war.