TEL AVIV (Jan. 15)
The imminence of war was brought home to the Israeli public Monday night when the civil defense authorities instructed householders to immediately seal at least one room against poison gas attack, stock it with necessities and prepare for what hopefully would be a short stay.
The Israel Defense Force, however, is reassuring the public that if war comes it will be brief and cause minimal casualties.
A “very senior officer” was quoted Tuesday by Israel Radio as saying that never before has the IDF been so fully prepared for war and any casualties or damage caused by an Iraqi attack would be “very light.”
Israel is under threat of an Iraqi missile attack even though it is not part of the U.S.-ledforces poised to oust Iraq from Kuwait.
The IDF chief of staff, Gen. Dan Shomron, on Tuesday told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee the IDF is fully prepared.
Sophisticated equipment and the most modern methodology of warfare, which was scheduled to be incorporated in the near future, is now fully integrated into the IDF and is operational and available for instant use, Shomron said.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has asked the American Red Magen David for Israel and Friends of the Magen David Adom worldwide for emergency funds to ensure that Israel’s equivalent of the Red Cross is able to fulfill its responsibilities in case of a national emergency.
The ministry said $2.5 million is needed immediately to put the MDA on a war alert. It emphasized the need to purchase blood packs used to collect blood from donors, chemical protective suits and closed breathing sets, the gas mask apparatus that encloses the entire face.
The MDA’s ambulance fleet also needs upgrading to be capable of holding more than one bed per vehicle.
The Education Ministry as of Tuesday night had not ordered schools closed despite the impending emergency.
But tent cities where Israelis rendered homeless by soaring rents have lived in recent months are being evacuated because they cannot be protected against gas attacks. Those who have been living in tents are being accommodated in hotels long emptied of foreign tourists.