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PM: Israel is ready for any Iraqi threat (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amnon Barzilai and Relly Sa´ar 12/24/02)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=244329&contrassID=2&subContrassID=1&sbSubContrassID=0&listSrc=Y HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The danger of an Iraqi missile attack on Israel exists, but Israel´s civilians have nothing to worry about "because Israel has taken all necessary steps to prevent this," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday.

"Our forces are excellent and well-equipped," Sharon said after watching an exercise during a visit to a Home Front Command base. He added that, if Israel was attacked, it would know how to defend itself.

"Israel is not involved in this war," he said, "but we understand the importance of the campaign against terror being waged by the U.S. Israel is acutely aware of the dangers of non-conventional weapons in the hands of terrorists, the prime minister continued.

"We are not interfering, we are not pushing, and we are not goading on this war," he said, "but it must be said that if we are attacked, we will know how to defend ourselves."

Sharon noted that strategic cooperation between Israel and the United States had never been better and that America would do everything in its power to prevent an attack on Israel. At the same time, Israel had excellent forces, an excellent air force and anti-missile and early-warning systems that were not in our possession before, he added.

Sharon, who was accompanied by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Chief of Staff Moshe Ya´alon, was shown some of the equipment that the Home Front has acquired to deal with non-conventional warfare. Among these was a manually-operated instrument for detecting chemical substances and a hood with dual air-pumps to be used by some 30,000 disabled persons - both developed locally.

Pressure mounted yesterday on the distribution centers for gas masks and an estimated 30,000 citizens lined up for new equipment. At the same time, the Education Ministry stepped up its emergency preparations.

Education Minister Limor Livnat said that in the event of an Iraqi attack, schools would either be closed or operate later in the day. She said soldiers had already instructed teachers and soon would instruct pupils on how to behave in an emergency. Kindergartens and schools have been sent brochures and videos explaining how to operate gas masks.

About one-third of pupils study in schools at which there is no proper shelter. Most of these are in the densely-populated central region. In about 20 percent of the schools, the shelters cannot hold all the pupils. (© Copyright 2002 Ha´aretz 12/24/02)

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