- JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Barak shrugged off any threat of Iraq firing ballistic
missiles at Israel on Friday but promised to be ready for the possibility,
- The United States, concerned that Iraq could try to fire
missiles at Israel, alerted a U.S. Army Patriot anti-missile battery in
Germany to prepare for possible deployment in Israel, senior defence officials
said on Thursday.
- "I can promise that we are ready and are following
well all that is happening and we will be ready for every sort of development,"
Barak told reporters during a visit to schools in the central Israeli town
- "I am not sure any more that we must truly be worried
and I don't know whether this Patriot battery must truly be worried,"
Barak said in jest.
- U.S. officials said they had no indications Iraq would
launch the missiles but were getting ready should Baghdad act against Israel
as part of any renewed campaign against minority Kurds in northern Iraq
or Shi'ite Moslems in the south.
- "We have told a battery to be on alert, to be on
their toes -- a short tether -- for possible movement" to Israel,
a senior defence official told Reuters.
- The Washington Post said on Friday that U.S. and Israeli
officials were concerned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could try to act
against Israel during the U.S. presidential election, in the false belief
that U.S. policymakers were distracted.
- No Evidence Of Imminent Threat
- U.S. officials insisted there was no evidence of an imminent
threat against Israel, but they were not taking any chances.
- Washington sent Patriot missiles to Israel for the first
time during the 1991 Gulf War, but they failed to halt most of the 39 Iraqi
Scud missiles fired at Israel, many of which damaged neighbourhoods in
and around Tel Aviv.
- The Pentagon sent Patriots to Israel again in December
1998 during escalating tensions over Iraq's refusal to cooperate with U.N.
weapons inspectors. That crisis resulted in a brief U.S. and British air
war against Baghdad called Operation Desert Fox but Iraq fired no missiles
- The Washington Post also quoted an Israeli official expressing
concern about Iraqi actions as the U.S. presidential election neared.
- "There is a feeling that maybe Saddam is going to
do something as we get closer to the American election," the newspaper
cited the official as saying. "There is a concern."
Site Served by TheHostPros