[IWAR] ISRAEL considers mass inoculations

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Date: Thu Jan 29 1998 - 12:16:43 PST

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    Posted at 9:15 a.m. PST Thursday, January 29, 1998 
                           Israel considers mass inoculations
       JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israelis were taking a hard look today at a mass
       inoculation against biological warfare, increasingly apprehensive of
       being drawn into a U.S.-Iraq conflict.
       Hundreds of children and their parents spent hours in line at gas mask
       centers throughout the country today, replacing masks, protective
       bassinets for babies and injection kits of drugs to counteract the
       effects of nerve gas.
       Although Israeli leaders said they believed the possibility of an Iraqi
       attack was remote, they revealed that the Cabinet had discussed the
       possibility of inoculations against biological weapons.
       However, there was no move to carry out such a program, which would be
       costly and could frighten an already edgy public.
       Dr. Gabi Barabash, director-general of Israel's Health Ministry, said
       Israel had not decided to inoculate the entire population, but said
       ``there is an answer'' in the event of a biological attack.
       ``We are at present sewing up the last logistical stitches which will
       enable us to be ready for anything,'' he said without elaborating.
       Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles with conventional warheads at Israel in the
       1991 Persian Gulf War, but Israel bowed to U.S. pressure to stay out of
       the fighting. The United States feared Israel's involvement might raise
       sympathy for Iraq among its Islamic neighbors.
       Rafael Eitan, Israel's environment minister and retired army chief of
       staff, said that Israel might act differently now.
       Refraining from responding ``caused us a great deal of damage,
       psychologically, and it also damaged our deterrent capability,'' he said
       on Israel radio. ``This time, we have learned our lesson well.''
       Asked whether he thought Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would attack
       Israel if he were attacked by the United States, Eitan said it was
       ``impossible to predict what he might do. We have to address what he is
       capable of doing, not what he will do.''
       Yitzhak Shamir, who was prime minister during the 1991 war, said Israel
       shouldn't keep quiet if it comes under attack again.
       ``If we are hit, we have to retaliate,'' Shamir told Israel's army
       radio. If war breaks out, he added, the Americans should kill Saddam,
       calling it a ``mistake'' that he had remained in power.
       ``We warned them then, and we see that we were right,'' he said.
       Chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler alarmed many people here
       this week with a comment to The New York Times that Iraq had the
       potential to ``blow away Tel Aviv.''
       ``If it looks like it will get worse, we'll just leave,'' said Shimon
       Alterman, who works at a cigarette stand in Tel Aviv. ``I'm not going
       through the Gulf War again.''
       Several Israeli officials, however, noted that today's situation was
       different, particularly since Saddam has not directly threatened Israel.
       ``There is every reason to believe that Israel will not be involved in
       any way, shape or form,'' said government spokesman Moshe Fogel.
       David Bar-Illan, a top adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
       said Netanyahu would discuss the situation with Secretary of State
       Madeleine Albright when she arrived in Israel on Saturday night.
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