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Israel Monitoring Iraqi Showdown, but Not Gearing Up for Attack Yet

Israel is keeping a close watch on the showdown between Iraq and U.N. inspectors trying to track down its nuclear weapons program.

But the country does not seem to be troubled yet by the increasing instability in the Persian Gulf.

The Israel Defense Force has taken no special precautions, and the public has not been called upon for any particular action, Lt. Gen. Ehud Barak, the IDF chief of staff, told Israel Radio on Wednesday night.

If the United States decides on a military strike to force Saddam Hussein to comply with U.N. resolutions, Israel will be notified in advance, he said.

His implication was that renewed military action in the Persian Gulf could make Israel a target again, as it was last winter during the Persian Gulf War.

Barak said the public is not being advised at this time to check the gas masks issued to them last year. “When the time comes, we will issue the necessary instructions,” he said.

Nevertheless, military commentators are suggesting that householders stock up on plastic sheeting and adhesive tape now to seal off rooms against chemical attack, in order to avoid a last-minute rush should an emergency occur.

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