Israeli Civilian Preparations - Terrorist Attack
20 March 2003
1. IDF ORDERS: OPEN AND ASSEMBLE GAS MASKS
Countless numbers of Israelis spent the hours before the onset of the
American assault on Iraq opening their gas mask kits, reading the
instructions, and carefully trying them on themselves and on their
children. The IDF's Homefront Command issued the instructions to do so
last night, less than six hours before the 48-hour American ultimatum to
Saddam Hussein expired.
The public was instructed to test that the masks are in operating condition
and to practice adjusting the head straps. A pamphlet accompanying each
kit emphasizes that the plastic cover and cap covering the filter openings
must be thrown away - so as to ensure that they are not left on while the
mask is worn, thus causing the type of suffocation that occurred in the
past. Similar emphasis was placed on not touching the atropine shots - but
seven people misunderstood and injected themselves with the antidotes; two
of them required hospital treatment.
The Homefront Command announcement also emphasized that children between
the ages of 3 and 9, whose masks include special air pumps to ease
breathing, should try on their masks only in the presence and with the
assistance of an adult. The gas pumps must always be activated prior to
putting on the mask, and turned off immediately upon removing the
mask. Information on how to use the protective kits is available in
English at <www.idf.il/homefront/english/ie-index07.stm#1>.
Israeli government and military officials decided that all schools and
places of work would continue their daily routine today, though
schoolchildren were instructed to bring their gas masks with them to
school. The Ministry of Education asked for kindergarten-parent volunteers
to accompany their children, in case the need arises to help the
pre-schoolers put on their gas masks. In some schools, children who
arrived without masks were sent home.
Call-in shows on various radio channels Wednesday night enabled Israelis to
express their anxieties and hear professional advice on war-related
issues. A kibbutz member told of his trying situation: "As per
instructions, my wife and I tried to fit the gas mask on my 3-year-old son.
He adamantly refused and burst out crying. We tried everything, but the boy
remained scared stiff of wearing it... We tried to explain that this was
another type of Purim mask, but it didn't work." The soothing radio voice
said that the parents should under no circumstances force the mask on the
child, but should rather let the toddler play with the mask and its various
parts until he gradually becomes comfortable with it: "Then you can have
him put it on a doll and explain to the doll how to wear it and use it."
The IDF Spokesperson's Office announced today the commencement of a
"silent" radio broadcast. Civilians who don't wish to hear war talk on the
radio all day can keep their receivers tuned to the publicized silent
frequencies. At a time of emergency, announcers will come on air providing
emergency information. See <www.israelnn.com/news.php3?id=40733> for the
silent frequencies in Israel.
2. ISRAEL AND PERSIAN GULF WAR II
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell phoned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
about 90 minutes before the beginning of the assault and informed him of
the impending attack.
Only a few hours after the attack on Iraq began early this morning (Israel
time), some 700 Arab protestors took to the streets in Gaza in favor of
Saddam Hussein. Burning American flags, the mobs called out, "Death to
America and Bush" and "We will give our souls and blood for you, Saddam."
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom visited the Ministry's situation room this
morning, and was updated on Israel's political and informational
preparations. He spoke with Israel's Ambassadors in the U.S. and Great
Britain, Danny Ayalon and Tzvi Shtauber, and instructed them to continue to
maintain a low profile. "Israel is not part of this war and does not want
to be dragged into it," Shalom said, adding that "Israelis are praying for
the allied soldiers and hope that the war will be short and with few
Prime Minister Sharon is conducting a "business as usual" routine,
areas in the western Negev today. He will take part this evening in a
seminar this evening in Sapir College in Sderot. On the agenda: The
significance of retaliatory actions, in which Sharon took active leadership
roles beginning in the 1950's.
Israel has been divided into ten "siren" areas. In case of emergency
of an approaching missile, a one-minute rising-and-falling siren will be
sounded throughout the country. When the threat is deemed to have passed,
the various areas will be notified. Those in Area Aleph (Tel Aviv and
environs), for instance, might be informed that it is safe to take off
their masks and leave their sealed rooms at the same time that those in
nearby Area Zayin (Netanya) must still be awaiting further
instructions. Northern Israel is Area Daled, except for Haifa and Acre,
which are Area Bet. Northern Shomron is Area Heh, while southern Shomron,
Jerusalem, and Judea are Area Gimmel. Ashdod and Ashkelon are in Area
Chet, while southern Israel is divided into three parts: Be'er Sheva and
westward is Vav; Dimona, Arad, and southward are Tet, and the rest,
including Eilat, is Yud.
The codewords to be announced over the radio in case of an attack are:
Homat Barzel (Iron Wall): Countrywide alert.
Adon Leon (Sir Leon): Alert in Areas Aleph, Bet, and Zayin, as well as
Dimona and Arad.
Baal Teshuvah (Repentant): Countrywide alert, except for Ashdod and
southwards (but including Dimona) and the northern areas.
Lilach Ifregan, 24, of Pardes Chanah, is supposed to be married next week -
unless what happened when she was supposed to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah
celebration 12 years ago occurs again: It was canceled because of the
outbreak of Persian Gulf War I. "It's unbelievable," she told
Maariv. "Saddam is chasing after me. It's a feeling of deja-vu." She has
not given up hope, however, and still expects to marry her intended, Yossi
Aberjil, next week, despite the "misunderstandings" between the Americans
and the Iraqis.
3. TERRORISTS DON'T LET UP
Tzion Busharian, 52, of the Shomron community of Mevo Dotan, was murdered
yesterday afternoon by terrorists on his way home. The Palestinian
terrorists sprayed his car with dozens of bullets, but he still managed to
pull out his pistol and fire back until one bullet hit him in the
head. Tzion is survived by his wife and three children, two of whom are
soldiers. He will be buried this afternoon in Zikhron Yaakov.
Shmuel Elad, head of Mevo Dotan's local council, spoke with Arutz-7 today
about his fallen friend and his community:
"Tzion was a founding and active member of Mevo Dotan, and a very dear
friend. It's a very difficult loss... Unfortunately, this is our third
such case. Hadas Abutbul was murdered over a year ago in the same place -
and another woman was shot there a few months ago - and Tzvika Shelef was
killed in June 2001 [in another drive-by shooting]. There is a path that
leads from that spot directly to Jenin..." Asked about the security
measures being taken, he said, "I can't say whether the army is working
effectively enough or not, but the statistics speak for themselves. There
have been three murders, so apparently more has to be done."
Asked what type of help his community could use, Elad said, "Well, we
first of all use prayers that G-d should remove the threat from amongst
us... This is a secular-traditional community of about 50 families, and we
are certainly looking for new ones. We are looking to absorb religious
families to come and strengthen Mevo Dotan, even if only for a year."
In other attacks today:
A mortar shell exploded this morning in a Jewish community in Gaza; no one
was hurt. Two Arab teenagers taken into custody for throwing firebombs at
cars on the Modiin-Jerusalem highway told their investigators that the
adults in their village encourage the youngsters to perpetrate such
attack. Several ready-to-be-hurled firebombs were found alongside the
highway... An Arab terrorist on his way to a suicide attack was arrested
in Shechem this morning.