- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 28, 2001

JERUSALEM The Israeli General Staff met Monday to discuss the possibility of an Iraqi attack with chemical or biological weapons in retaliation for any U.S. military attempt to unseat Saddam Hussein.

The Israeli military brass are also concerned about the prospect that such weapons could be delivered by suicide bombers, according to reports yesterday by state-owned Israel Radio and Yediot Achronot, the nation's largest-circulation daily.

General Staff meetings are routinely held at armed forces headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Speculation about a U.S. military attack on Iraq rose after President Bush demanded Monday that Saddam allow U.N. weapons inspectors, who were expelled in 1998, to resume their search for chemical, nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction.

When asked what he would do if Saddam rejected the demand, Mr. Bush replied: "He'll find out."

Yesterday, the Iraq government said it would not allow the inspections to resume.

Israeli security sources said yesterday that Saddam is believed likely to attack Israel with chemical or biological warheads if he feels that he and his regime are about to go under.

His missile capacity is far less than it was during the Persian Gulf war a decade ago, when he fired 36 missiles with conventional warheads at Israel. Those missiles caused considerable structural damage but took only one life. It is, therefore, assumed he will seek a more "efficient" result next time with unconventional weapons, particularly if he has nothing to lose.

Iraq is believed to possess only five launchers and some 50 missiles.

Israeli military planners believe that Saddam will attempt to augment that potential by preparing pilots for suicide attacks against Israel with unconventional warheads. To meet the missile threat, Israel has in place an anti-missile system, the Arrow, which it has developed but it has never been tested in combat. Suicide air attacks would be dealt with by the Israeli air force.

During the Gulf war, the U.S. prevailed on Israel not to attack Iraq in response to the missile attacks so as not to endanger the American-led coalition, which included a number of Arab countries.

The Israeli press recently reported that Washington has told Israel that if Saddam attacks, this time Israel will have a free hand to respond.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli army officer said Monday that Syria has developed advanced Scud missiles with a range of 300 miles that can hit almost any part of Israel and are capable of carrying chemical warheads.

Maj. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, the deputy chief of staff, said that the Syrians view their missiles as a deterrent against Israeli attacks on their hinterland.

In an address in Jerusalem, Gen. Ya'alon said that the Palestinians have been unnerved by Israel's resilience after more than a year of the Palestinian uprising in which there have been some 9,000 attacks on Israeli targets. Despite some 200 Israeli dead and 2,000 wounded, he said, morale of the Israeli public remains high. Palestinian casualties are about five times as high.

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