After mentioning the apparent apocalypse that I fear will accompany the commencement of America’s final strike against Sadam Hussein, I received (courtesy of Laurie Mylroie) the following account from the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv (Israel’s second largest Hebrew language newspaper) of Israel’s preparation for the Saddam’s anticipated response:
“Homat Barzel” [Iron Wall] — this will be the alert code to be used by the IDF Home Front Command to warn the population of a missile attack on Israel.
The IDF has recently stepped up the preparation of the home front in anticipation of the expected US attack on Iraq. Security officials estimate that Saddam Husayn will order his army to fire long-range missiles at Israel, including some outfitted with chemical and biological warheads, already at the beginning of the US strike.
In “quiet contacts” held recently with the heads of the US Administration, Israel asked a forewarning of several days prior to the strike to be able to prepare for the possibility of missiles being fired on Israel’s civilian population. The issue was raised by the prime minister, the defense minister, and the chief of staff in their visits to Washington.
Sources in Israel affirmed that a forewarning of a mere several hours –as prior to the US attack on Afghanistan — would be insufficient. The IDF foresees a public “avalanche” on the gas mask distribution centers in case of an emergency. Therefore, it has trained some 3,000 reservists, who would be called up at once to help the centers increase distribution to over 50,000 gas masks a day.
The IDF has also finished drafting the procedures for updating and informing the public. The moment the report is received of a missile having been fired, a siren will be activated throughout the country, broadcasts on all television and radio stations will stop, and the public will be notified of the new alert code (replacing “Nahash Tzefa” of Gulf War fame), which will be read out by Oded Ben-Ami, a former IDF spokesman.
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