- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 23, 2003

TEL AVIV, Israel, March 23 (UPI) — The Israeli government Sunday warned citizens not to be lulled into a false sense of security by U.S. coalition successes in western Iraq and the fact that no missiles have been fired at Israel so far.

"The Americans have not yet gained control over all of western Iraq and therefore we cannot rule out the existence of an Iraqi capability to launch ground to ground missiles," Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as telling the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem.

U.S.-led forces in Iraq have captured the two airfields known as H1 and H2 in western Iraq. It was from these positions that Iraq launched more than 30 Scud missiles at Israel in the 1991 Gulf War.

However, Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, the Army's official spokesman on the Iraq war, told Army radio that Iraq still has a potential to launch missiles towards Israel, and "the prospects for a lone incident is high."

The situation would be especially dangerous when Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein feels he has his back to the wall, Gilad predicted.

Gilad didn't give details of where the Iraqis could position rocket launchers that would still bring Israeli territory within reach.

Mofaz also told the ministers Sunday that "cooperation with the United States is very good," according to the minister's aide. But Mofaz apparently gave no details, not even to the cabinet.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told the cabinet Israel would not discuss a U.S. planned roadmap for a settlement with the Palestinians before the war in Iraq is over and Israel receives the draft plan, the aide reported.

Israeli experts have received several drafts that they have commented on, but the debate at the cabinet will be held only after the war, a senior government official said.

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