April 4, 2003
Jerusalem, Israel (Bridges for Peace) — Here in Israel, we have watched the interplay on the Iraq Crisis play out for months. On several occasions, it seemed that the war would start within days, and then a diplomatic detour put it off. Yet, all along, it was apparent that the battle would ultimately be fought if Saddam and his sons did not stand down and come clean on the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) in Iraq. It was like a game of “hide and go seek” to watch UN Weapons Inspectors travel here and there, sometimes arriving just as trucks were leaving sites. More important than what was found during their inspections, is what was not found. The western nations that sold Hussein the raw materials or processing equipment to make his WMD know more than the public or the media what is there and what is missing and unreported.
Finally, on March 20, the first attack took place on a bunker in Baghdad, and the rest is history. Israel did not expect any attacks in the early hours of the war, because if a Scud were fired, it would have proved that Saddam had what was claimed by the US and Britain, justifying the war. Nevertheless, there are 24 unaccounted for Scud launchers. In 1991, the Scuds were fired from the Iraqi airbases in the western desert, H2 and H3. The US troops have secured these bases, but no Scud launchers were found. As the noose tightens on Saddam in Baghdad, it is feared that he will unleash chemical weapons on the Allied troops AND ISRAEL, as he likens himself to a modern-day Nebuchadnezzar. He has vowed not to leave this earth without making an historical gesture for Islam – even one as grave as using Weapons of Mass Destruction. He considers the Allied Troops as “Christian Crusaders” who are allied with the “Jewish Dogs,” and both are considered infidels to Islam. A statement read by the Iraqi Minister of Information, supposedly from Saddam Hussein, called for a Jihad, a holy war against both the Allies and Israel. Therefore, Israel is prepared.
In Israel, today, everyone has been ordered to carry gas masks and be prepared to go into sealed shelters if the air raid sirens sound. Civilians have prepared a sealed room in their homes to protect against possible chemical or biological attack. Schools and all offices have a prepared sealed room or have applied plastic sheeting to the openings of shelters to make sure they can protect against chemical warfare.
Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, addressed the nation at the start of the war. “Although the danger of us being attacked is only one percent, we have taken steps that give us 100 percent coverage, “in the event of an attack, Sharon told ministers, in remarks broadcast over Israel Radio. He urged the Israeli public to remain calm and continue showing its characteristic courageousness. Sharon stated that Israel, however, “views this war with ultimate regard. We are in awe of the United States and President George Bush who are conducting an international campaign against terrorism.”
The Palestinians are fully aligned with Saddam Hussein. Arab newspapers have reported that male babies born in the Palestinian Authority Territory are being named Saddam. And, pro-Saddam rallies and marches are taking place almost daily where chants shout, “Saddam, strike Tel Aviv with chemicals” and, “Bush, the little one, you are a coward. The land of Iraq is not for you.”
Here at Bridges for Peace, we have a full compliment of overseas Christian volunteers who have chosen to stay in Israel and stand with the people here. We offered to help anyone who wanted to leave, but everyone wanted to stay.
In the last Gulf War, as Scuds rained down on neighborhoods, Bridges for Peace was able to bring needed aid to those affected. Today, our Israel Food Bank and Outreach Center is full to the maximum with supplies, including foodstuffs and blankets, which we can deliver to any affected community after the areas have been deemed safe to enter and opened by the IDF.
Bridges for Peace, as an organization that has a stated policy of standing with Israel, now is the time to show that support and be here, even when others are leaving or staying away.
Gas masks have been issued to all working and visiting with Bridges for Peace, along with the necessary supplies to seal rooms. Already, we can hear Israeli Air Force jets screaming across the skies, as the nation prepares its defenses. Early tomorrow morning, we will all be watching along with the rest of Israel and the world to see what will happen.