JERUSALEM – Israel will retaliate if Saddam Hussein attacks the Jewish state in response to a U.S.-led strike on Iraq, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said.
In 1991, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israeli cities, causing heavy damage but few casualties. During the first Gulf War the United States prevented Israel from retaliating, fearing such a response would pull apart an Arab-backed coalition it set up to fight Baghdad.
This time, however, President Bush is not relying on Arab support to achieve his stated goal of disarming and ousting Saddam, and Israel has made clear it will not sit idle if it is again attacked.
"In the event that Israel will be attacked, it will retaliate. There are also plans ready for such an incident," Mofaz told reporters Saturday in his strongest comments yet.
Other Israeli officials have said Israel will retaliate in the event of a biological or chemical weapons attack -- an event that officials say is highly unlikely but one that they are preparing for by supplying citizens with gas masks and urging them to have at least one sealed room in their house.