Three Isrealis killed as Scuds hit Tel Aviv
By Reuven M. Lerner
Three people were killed and at least 70 wounded when an Iraqi Scud missile landed in a heavily residential neighborhood of Tel Aviv, Israel, yesterday afternoon, according to officials from the Israel Defense Forces.
Brigadier General Nachman Shai, the IDF spokesman, said that at least two Patriot missiles were fired at the incoming Scuds, which were the third wave launched on Israel since Friday. He said that there is no doubt that the Patriots did not hit the incoming Iraqi missiles, but added that he hoped they will do their job the next time. The Patriots have been very successful in thwarting Iraqi attacks on Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with the Cable News Network, Shai would not comment on the condition of the wounded. But he did confirm a report that one woman died of a heart attack, though she was uninjured by the missile itself. Three of the wounded are in serious condition, including one infant with a head injury. Hospital officials said that 10 of the wounded are children under the age of 12.
Israel radio reported that at least two other people died of heart attacks, and that over 40 of the injured were released from local hospitals soon after the attack.
The missile flattened one apartment building and severely damaged at least 20 other buildings. One Israeli who lived in the area of the blast said that there was not a great deal of time between when the air raid sirens sounded and the missile fell.
One reporter on the scene described the area as "a mess." He said the streets were littered with glass and debris. He added that the blast blew out windows in all buildings within a quarter-mile radius.
vow to retaliate
The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Zalman Shoval, repeated his government's claim that it is up to the Israeli government to make the final decision on whether to retaliate for the attack. He said that he does not know what the nature of the retaliation will be, but added that he would not say even if he did know. He noted that such retaliation would be a question of how best to protect Israelis, and would not necessarily be "a matter of an eye for an eye."
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy added, "Nobody in Israel is interested in being a sacrificial lamb."
The Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations defended the Scud attack on Israel. He said that it is "important for Israelis to know the consequences of pain and suffering of war." He added that the attack serves the interests of peace in the Middle East.
President George Bush met with his senior aides last night at the White House following the attack on Israel. Bush condemned the attack as a "brutal act of terror." At the same time, his administration praised Israel for withholding retaliation so far. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported that British Prime Minister John Major made a similar statement yesterday evening.
Also, hundreds of panicked residents of Adana, Turkey, headed for shelters after air raid sirens were sounded there yesterday evening. A US military spokesman said the alert was put on when the Iraqi missile launch was detected, and called off when the missile was found to be heading toward Israel.
Air raid sirens also sounded late last night in the Saudi city of Dhahran, which is serving as a center of operations for the allied forces in the Persian Gulf. The sirens started waiting at 6:38 am Saudi time (10:38 pm Eastern time), but were shut off several minutes later. No details were available at press time.
In Baghdad, the Iraqi government said that it will consider treating war prisoners according to international conventions if the same principles are applied to Palestinians living in Israel's occupied territories. Reporters monitoring the Radio Baghdad broadcast in Nicosia, Cypress, and London were unable to provide any more details, as the broadcast quality deteriorated after that announcement. Several American and allied prisoners of war were shown on Iraqi television and reportedly paraded through the streets of Baghdad in the last few days.
Iraq "doing little or
nothing," Pentagon says
Meanwhile, the Pentagon said that Iraq is "doing little or nothing at the moment" beyond firing off Scud missiles.
At a briefing yesterday afternoon, Lieutenant General Thomas Kelly said he could not explain Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's military strategy. Kelly said that Iraq is working to repair airfields and other targets attacked in the first six days of allied air raids.
Kelly put the number of allied air missions at over 10,000, and described them as "hurting Saddam Hussein across the board." He added that military officials are very encouraged about the results of the air assault.
The spokesman said improved weather over Iraq has allowed the allies to intensify their attack without any further loss of American planes. He added that fires that Iraq set in Kuwaiti oil fields have had "no effect on US military operations."
Kelly added that allied warplanes are trying to destroy Iraqi television broadcasting facilities.
Coup attempt fails
The Guardian, a British newspaper published in London, quoted an Iraqi opposition leader yesterday as saying seven men were shot to death in Baghdad last week in a foiled bid to broadcast a television message urging people to overthrow Hussein.
The newspaper quoted Abdul Aziz al-Hakim as saying Iraqi security forces killed the seven as they tried to occupy the main television station in the Iraqi capital.
Guardian reporters identified al-Hakim as a senior Shiite who was one of two Iraqi opposition leaders to meet with British Foreign Office officials in London on Monday. The report quoted him as saying two of the men killed were senior members of the ruling Ba'ath party.
The report also said that the men planned to broadcast a message to the nation blaming Hussein for starting another war and urging a general uprising. It said a power failure prevented them from broadcasting, and they were caught and killed by security forces.
Refugees flee into Jordan
Western peace activists crossing into Jordan from Iraq said early this morning that Baghdad has been devastated by allied bombing.
Jack King, an engineer from Australia, said the people of Baghdad have been without water since Thursday. He went on to say that they are also without sewage facilities, electricity and fuel.
King said the allies have wiped out refineries. He said he watched gasoline and oil storage tanks burn to the ground and missiles hit a power station.
"The bombing was very accurate on the whole," King said. But he added that "many missiles must have missed their targets and hit houses."
King was among 25 peace activists who arrived in Jordan. The activists are members of the Gulf Peace Team, a London-based multinational group that opposes the war in the gulf.
Dan Winters of Boulder, CO, said most of the damage is on the outskirts of Baghdad. He said bombs were falling every two or three seconds during the air raids.
Other refugees crossing into Jordan might get some attention soon. Former Assistant Defense Secretary Richard Armitage left Amman last night after a meeting White House aides said focused on refugee problems. Presidential Spokesman Marlin L. Fitzwater said Armitage carried no specific proposals. He added that the trip will help determine if the United States should offer aid to help Jordan handle the flow of refugees from neighboring Iraq.
Archaeologists and historians, meanwhile, are counting casualties of a different kind. They say allied bombs threaten to destroy treasures from the world's earliest civilizations. Baghdad is in a region that was settled over 6000 years ago. One archaeologist said the Iraq national museum in downtown Baghdad contains thousands of clay tablets, jewelry, and other treasures.
(Editor's note: Parts of this article were based on information provided by The Associated Press.)