Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Rabin Warns of Arab Ground Missiles, Cites Threat to Israel’s Security

July 1, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin warned Thursday that the introduction of ground-to-ground missiles by the Arab armies gives “a new dimension” to the Arab-Israeli conflict and poses a direct and serious threat against Israel.

Addressing more than 600 Jewish business and communal leader at a State of Israel Bonds luncheon at the Plaza Hotel here, Rabin said that the recent purchasing of ground-to-ground missiles by several Arab countries, and the use of these missiles by Iraq to attack Iranian civilian centers, is only part of the escalating arms race in the Middle East.

According to the defense minister, the Arab countries have spent between 40 and 60 billion dollars in the last year for new arms purchases and the maintenance of their armies.

Syria’s tank force alone, Rabin disclosed, is three times that of France, and twice more than Britain’s.

Rabin charged that the Soviet Union continues to be the main supplier of arms to Israel’s enemies.

The military threat of the Arab armies–excluding Egypt — against Israel is one of “three levels of threat to Israel’s security,” Rabin noted.

The other two, he said, are the terrorist threat and the current uprising in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Rabin said the continued violence in the territories is a war “against the very existence of Israel, and it is a danger to its security and wellbeing.”

Declaring that the confrontation in the territories is no more than the “continuing of the war against Israel by different means,” Rabin said that Israel will never give in to such violence.

Israel, he said, has no choice but “to stand up and use force against violence.”

Although Rabin said he is ready to make compromises in the territories, he strongly believers that by “giving in to violence Israel will invite more violence and atrocities.”

Israeli soldiers are confronted with the unpleasant task of using force to stop the violence in the territories, Rabin said, and he knows that many Americans are critical of the violence they see on the TV screen.

But the task of the Israeli troops who confront the rioters is much harder and much less pleasant than those who witness it, Rabin said.

More than $24 million in Israel Bonds receipts were collected during the luncheon.

Recommended from JTA