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Israelis Concerned over Reports Bush Considering Strike on Iraq

August 18, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israelis are following with a degree of concern reports from the United States that President Bush is considering military action against selected strategic targets in and around Baghdad to force Saddam Hussein to obey U.N. resolutions.

The worry revolves around whether the Iraqi ruler would respond to such U.S. action by launching Scud missiles against Israel.

Military and strategic experts here tend to downplay the risk, and no measures have been taken to warn the public to step up any antimissile precautions.

They say that for Iraqi President Hussein, a Scud attack on Israel would not be cost-effective, and even counterproductive, as this time Israel would not hesitate to launch a sharp and effective retaliation.

The U.S. restraints that were in effect during the Persian Gulf War, which prevented Israel from retaliating for the barrage of Scud attacks it endured, are no longer in place.

A first Scud launched against Israel would draw an immediate and massive response by the Israeli air force and would include other unconventional methods, the experts suggest.

Reports that Bush was contemplating a military strike against Iraq were first reported Sunday by The New York Times, which said the action could occur as early as Monday.

While Bush and other senior administration officials strongly denied portions of the Times report, they did not rule out the use of military force against Iraq.

And on Monday, Bush was quoted in Indianapolis as saying that the United States has “strong responses” planned if Iraq continues to violate the terms of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire.

The Times story also reported that “the defenses of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel have been beefed up in recent weeks with deployments of Patriot missile batteries.”

But a spokesman at the Israeli Consulate in New York denied knowledge of any such deployments in Israel. “As far as we know, we haven’t received any new batteries in recent weeks,” the spokesman said.

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