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The Man and the Issues   |   Live Chat   |   Message Board

The Iraqi Threat

Iraq bombs Israel

(CNN) -- What will Israel do if the standoff between Iraq and the United Nations results in another Gulf War? Will Israel once again stand idly by if shelled by Iraq, or will it take action?

At the urging of the United States, Israel refrained from striking back at Iraq during the 1990-91 war, even though 11 Israeli civilians were killed by 39 Scud missiles fired by Iraq.

This time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel won't be so quick to back down.

"Israel, and Israel alone, will decide what its response will be," he has vowed.

Israel's response in the event Western nations make a military move against Iraq is another complicating factor in the Mideast peace process, because the United States has sought Arab backing in case of a U.S. attack on Iraq over U.N. weapons inspections.

Israel's decision over whether to strike back at Iraq could topple whatever Arab support the U.S. has been able to muster.

And while Iraq has not threatened Israel, Netanyahu is not taking any chances. Gas masks are being handed out to Israeli citizens, and four U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries have been deployed in Israel's southern Negev Desert.

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