- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2000

Israel has taken possession of a missile-firing submarine from Germany, moved its forces to a high alert status and canceled plans to reduce the serving time of draftees in its army as it copes with new threats posed by the Palestinian intifada and worldwide Muslim support for it.

Israeli moves to meet its deteriorating security situation have won support on Capitol Hill, which gave approval Wednesday to $1.98 billion in military aid to Israel for the coming fiscal year.

An Israeli army spokesman said yesterday that despite threats from some Arab states such as Iraq, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) sees little chance the current Palestinian violence will ignite a conventional war.

"The Palestinians try to drag the other Arab states into some kind of conflict, but we don't see any of the leaders interested," said Maj. Yarden Vatikay by phone from Israel.

However, the Israeli army has begun to "reassess" its situation with respect to the Palestinians as well as the entire region as a result of the breakdown in the peace process.

Yesterday, the first of a feared return to suicide bombings took place, killing a Palestinian attacker and wounding an Israeli soldier.

The Palestinian on a bicycle blew himself up at the wall of an Israeli army post in the Gaza Strip. The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to Reuters in Beirut, identifying the bomber and pledging to carry out more missions. IDF Operations Branch Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland yesterday told a panel at the Knesset, or parliament, that he expects the Palestinian violence to continue for some time and to worsen in the coming weeks.

He said that chances of a terrorist attack inside Israel's original 1948 borders are high, accusing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of giving a "green light" to such attacks by forming an alliance with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, two groups on the State Department's terrorist list.

An IDF official said that the army has decided to shelve plans to shorten military service for draftees from three years to two years and eight months as a result of the violence.

The army is also considering lengthening women's service from one year and seven months to one year and nine months to allow them to be trained for wider roles, a move that was planned before the current unrest began.

Israel has rushed delivery of a new Dolphin-class submarine named Tekuma, built in Germany, because of the regional unrest, said a military official Tuesday.

Analysts said the submarine would be fitted with Harpoon guided missiles with a range of 80 miles, capable of delivering nuclear or conventional warheads.

The submarine is the third Dolphin ordered by Israel since the Persian Gulf war and it is intended to provide the third leg of the "triad" required for invulnerable defense strategy in modern warfare, along with land- and air-based weapons systems.

The Tekuma and the other Dolphins were underwritten by Germany after Israel was attacked with Scud missiles by Iraq during the Gulf war.

According to Stratfor intelligence analysts, the diesel-powered Tekuma is 187 feet long and can accommodate a crew of 35 for monthlong operations.

Jane's International Defense Review reported in September 1999 that sources close to the German construction project said Israel was planning to modify U.S.-supplied Sub-Harpoon missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel has never acknowledged it has built nuclear weapons but is widely believed to have up to 200 bombs ready to use.

Despite assurances by IDF officials that they consider as mere posturing the threats by some Arab neighbors of a wider war to support the Palestinians, the delivery of the submarine is one sign Israel does have some concern about a widening regional conflict.

"Iraq does maneuvers to bring forces to the Western parts of its territory and makes a bit of noise, said Maj. Vatikay. "We watch it carefully. Our eyes are open and we are reassessing the situation and pretty soon we will try to tell ourselves exactly what our needs are. Then the army will ask the political echelon for what we think is necessary money, installations, combat means."

The army has issued a "minimal" call-up of reservists, mostly for service at headquarters and for some service in territorial defense of villages, he said.

"We could have a bigger amount it depends on how the situation stabilizes itself. The key is in the Palestinians' hand," he said.

Analysts say while a direct attack in Israel is unlikely, Iraq could take advantage of the situation to attack Syria or Jordan to settle scores.

Shoshana Bryen, spokeswoman for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, said yesterday that despite anti-American sentiment spreading in the Islamic world as a result of sympathy for the Palestinians, "I don't think there is any question that the United States military by and large understands the issue of terrorism and that the Palestinian uprising is using violence for political ends.

"Arafat is trying to arouse this into a Muslim-Jewish war or an anti-Western war," she said of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

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