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Israel Will Retaliate if Iraq Attacks, says Newspaper - 2002-08-11

Israel has warned the United States that it will retaliate should Baghdad fire missiles on the Jewish State in response to an American strike on Iraq.

Israel has notified the United States that it will not exercise the same kind of restraint it demonstrated in the Gulf War in the even of another Iraqi attack, even if there are no casualties.

The Hebrew language newspaper Ha'aretz has reported that Israel has issued the warning during discussions about preparations for a possible American attack on Iraq calculated to topple the regime of President Saddam Hussein.

The newspaper said that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had made it clear to U.S. President George W. Bush that "if Israel is attacked, it will respond."

The Washington correspondent for the English language Jerusalem Post newspaper independently confirmed that warnings had been issued by Israel.

The warnings are reportedly of concern to the United States, which is attempting to build international support for a possible military campaign against Iraq.

During the Gulf War, the United States joined forces with some Arab states and called on Israel not to intervene even when Iraq fired Scud Missiles at the Jewish State.

The Americans believed then that if Israel had responded, the coalition with the Arab States would have fallen apart.

In the build-up to another possible confrontation with Iraq, the U.S. administration does not yet have either European or Arab public support for a military strike.

At the same time, the Ha'aretz newspaper reports the Bush administration is sensitive to any suggestion that it is working with Israel against Iraq for fear that this could affect its relations with Arab allies, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.