GULF WAR (1991)

GULF WAR (1991)
-Introduction The Iraqi conquest of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, constituted an act of naked military aggression which, although distant from Israel, raised serious concern in Jerusalem. Since the Baghdad Arab Summit in 1978, through the enormous military build-up in the 1980s during the war with Iran, Iraq was seen as the linchpin of the threatening Eastern Front of Arab states dedicated to military confrontation with Israel, as opposed to Egypt's approach of political accommodation. There was a residue of deep acrimony between Iraq and Israel that went back to Israel's War of Independence of 1948 and the fact that Iraq, unlike other belligerent Arab states, had refused to sign an armistice agreement with Israel in 1949. Beyond Iraq's role in subsequent Arab-Israeli wars, Israel's air strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor outside Baghdad on June 7, 1981, left its own mark on the animosity and conflict between the two countries. In April, just a few months prior to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein had broadcast his vicious intention, minimally his blatant threat, "to burn half of Israel with chemical weapons." -Israel and the Gulf Crisis Although Iraq had chosen in August to occupy a fellow-Arab state, and this for reasons of economic greed along with grandiose hegemonic aspirations in the Arab World as a whole, Israel had cause for caution and suspicion. Exactly a week after the Gulf crisis began, Prime Minister Yitẓḥak Shamir addressed the army's National Defense College on the subject of aggression – that in the 1930s in Europe and that in the Middle East in 1990. He said: „ The great difference between those dark days of the 1930s and ours, is „ that this time the Jewish nation has the ability and means to deter, „ face, and defend itself from the threat, and if need be, to overthrow „ and defeat it. The following day Defense Minister Moshe Arens reiterated the prime minister's confidence and warning. "Saddam Hussein," he remarked, "knows whom he will be dealing with if he starts anything with Israel." Relying specifically on the deterrent capacity of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), its proven military strength and reputation for ingenious and determined strategic reach, the defense minister concluded that Saddam's threats would not materialize. The Gulf crisis opened up possibilities to serve Israeli national interests in a fortuitous and dramatic fashion. Firstly, it deflected global attention away from the politically damaging Palestinian uprising (Intifada) that had besmirched Israel's standing in the world. Reduced coverage of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza could marginalize the Arab insurrection as a media scoop. Secondly, the Gulf crisis diverted American attention from its focus on regional peace-making generally and the inauguration of a Palestinian-Israeli dialogue in particular. Secretary of State James Baker had exerted persistent efforts for many months to induce Israel's government to agree to America's formula for a Palestinian delegation that would negotiate with Jerusalem. The specifics of Baker's formula were unacceptable to Prime Minister Shamir and his markedly nationalist, and narrow, coalition government formed in the spring. Thirdly, and most critically, the crisis evoked an immediate and resolute American response that portended military confrontation against Iraq. That reaction had the acceptable possibility, not necessarily explicit in the diplomatic language of official Jerusalem, that U.S. forces would defeat Israel's enemy to the east. The United States moved with diplomatic and military alacrity to react to Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. The United   Nations Security Council convened on the very day of the invasion to condemn Iraqi aggression and demand an unconditional and immediate withdrawal. Under America's leadership, a coalition of military forces began to be organized to protect the Persian Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia particularly, from further aggressive moves that might emanate from Baghdad. President George H.W. Bush was explicit in identifying America's concerns and motives when he affirmed that Saudi independence "is of vital interest to the United States." During subsequent months, an American-Arab alliance was fashioned that embodied the capacity and determination to impose the status quo ante in Kuwait and the Gulf. While the anti-Iraq purpose was fully compatible with Israeli interests, Operation Desert Storm reflected new political alignments and developments in the Middle East which could impinge negatively on Israel's future strategic standing and prospects. The crisis in the Gulf was an opportunity for Israel, but it was also a potential crisis as well. -America and Israel's Low Profile The American-led Allied military coalition revolved specifically around three important Arab states. Egypt, a partner with the United States in the Camp David Accords, was a primary legitimizer for American intervention in the Gulf and against the Arab state of Iraq. In due course Washington not only coordinated its strategic planning with Egypt, but in October also canceled a $7.1 billion Egyptian debt to the United States. Saudi Arabia, stubbornly rejecting repeated American requests during the 1980s for the stationing of its troops or the establishment of bases on Saudi soil, was now not averse to the welcome protection by the U.S.-led coalition. In August the Saudis received $2 billion of American military assistance, including tanks, planes, and missiles. In November, following an initial Saudi request for a $21 billion arms sale, which apparently was supported – perhaps initiated – by the Bush administration, a first $7.5 billion deal was approved. The U.S. Congress expressed its opposition to a third installment in the arms deal, to the tune of $14 billion, that included AWACS, F-15s, Apache helicopters, Maverick missiles, and more. Yet that did not necessarily imply that the administration had capitulated to Capitol Hill. Syria, erstwhile Soviet client and intrepid American foe, was a new Arab addition to the United States political network in the Middle East. Beyond lining up with Washington and against Baghdad, Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad actually flew to meet President Bush in Geneva in December, as the crisis slid closer to war. Syrian self-interest in rivalry with fellow-Ba'athist Iraq conformed effortlessly with America's search for a New Political Order in the region, in the wake of Iraqi aggression and the challenge to Saudi and Gulf integrity. Israel's response to the crisis was bedeviled by the conflict between its desire to see Iraq stopped and defeated and by the constraint exercised by America to deny the Israeli army participation in this campaign. Israeli passivity would not enhance its regional reputation and strategic deterrence, but it could facilitate or uncomplicate an Allied triumph against Iraq. It was not unreasonable, though perhaps not necessarily correct, that Israeli involvement might upset the U.S.-Arab coalition. The Arab participants – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Morocco, and others – would conceivably balk at fighting on the same side as Jewish troops against other Arab, viz. Iraqi, troops. Remaining on the military margins in the face of overt Iraqi threats was a painful political dilemma for Israel during the crisis period from August 1990 until January 1991, and then during the war itself from January 16 until the cease-fire on February 27. Foreign Minister David Levy provided an early indication of his country's policy when he stated on September 6, that "Israel is maintaining a low profile." He would repeat this position throughout the succeeding months. In the heat of war, and just prior to the ground offensive in late February, he again articulated the policy of Israeli non-intervention, so as not to hamper the American-led coalition against Iraq. Certainly the policy of a low profile became the hallmark of Israel's rhetorical and political quandary for the entire period of crisis and war. While the IDF was galvanized into military preparedness, it effectively carried out no offensive operations at all. The threats of painful punishment to Saddam Hussein, as in Shamir's statement of September 19, were left as a reminder of Israeli resolve although restraint actually colored policy-making. This was so even after Iraq's Scud missiles hit Israel beginning on January 17. At that time, just a day after the attack, Army Chief-of-Staff Dan Shomron was forthright: „ First of all, I would like to state that the fact that missiles were „ fired at our civilian population is a very serious event, and, as all „ Israeli leaders have repeatedly said in the past, such an event „ demands a reaction. Eliyahu Ben-Elissar, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, conveyed a similar determination on January 25 after more Iraqi missiles had struck Israeli population centers. He said: "Our decision to respond was made as soon as the first missile fell on the Israeli population or entered our air space.…" But a growing and pervasive credibility gap clouded the rhetorical flourish reflected in such Israeli declarations. Saddam's threats from 1990 materialized, but Israeli policy statements did not. Prime Minister Shamir gave voice to the cautionary element that intruded into Israel's traditionally activist military practice. In October he referred to the need not to be dragged into the maelstrom by Iraq and thereby derail the U.S.-Arab coalition. Even after more than 30 Scud missiles had hit Israel, having exacted a significant human and material toll, the prime minister stated laconically in an interview on Israeli television, on February 21, that "(t)here is no (state) interest that calls for automatic reaction always." -Problematics in Israeli-American Relations The importance and sensitivity at the root of American-Israeli relations were severely tested during the period of crisis and   war in the Persian Gulf. At the start, Jerusalem would have been satisfied to see the United States fulfill Israeli interests as Washington pursued its own global and regional goals against Iraq. Later, however, divergences surfaced in the pursuit of American and Israeli interests, and signs of tension seemed to grow over the months. On August 10, just a few days after the Gulf crisis began, Foreign Minister Levy was questioned concerning U.S.-Israeli coordination. His rhetorical response – "Can anyone think for a second that we would be completely out of the circle of consultations and briefings?" – may have seemed reasonable at the time. After all, the two countries had engaged in an official strategic alliance since 1981 and had cooperated in a variety of military, weapons, and intelligence fields. The United States and Israel were moreover preoccupied on a nearly permanent basis in the search for a mechanism to consolidate and advance regional peace efforts. However, when tension arose, it went beyond the immediate question of Israel's role in the anti-Iraq military coalition. On that issue Israel was initially willing, as noted earlier, to maintain a low profile. On September 6, it was reported that America had agreed to lease to Israel several Patriot missile batteries to provide air-defense capabilities, in the light of Saddam's blatant threats and Iraq's military capabilities. An agreement to this effect was signed in Washington, Israel represented by David Ivri, the Ministry of Defense director-general. But Patriot missiles were not delivered to Israel during the crisis period, and only arrived following two devastating Scud missile attacks against the region of Tel Aviv, on January 17 and 19. In October 1990, an incident occurred on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem which strained relations between Israel and the United States. Near the Dome of the Rock and the Aqsa Mosque, Muslim rioters attacked Jewish worshipers praying below at the Western Wall during the Sukkot holiday festival. This precipitated the active intervention of the Israeli security forces who ended up killing 21 Arabs. This incident, alleged by some to be Arab provocation to catalyze an Israeli military response against Iraq, turned into a diplomatic imbroglio at the United Nations. The United States played an active role in supporting the Arab position which demanded censuring Israeli behavior, considered brutal and without due cause. The Security Council called for denouncing Israel and recommended sending an investigative commission to Jerusalem and the territories to examine Israeli policy, while providing security for the local Palestinian inhabitants. The Likud government was irrevocably unwilling to accede to the UN position and rejected the charges leveled against Israel regarding the Temple Mount incident itself. Throughout October and until December relations between America and Israel were sullied by this event in Jerusalem and its international repercussions emanating from United Nations headquarters in New York. In an interview on October 19, Prime Minister Shamir took issue with the Bush administration on the general question of Jerusalem. Not only had the United States agreed that a United Nations delegation intervene in local Israeli affairs, but the very right of Jews to live in East Jerusalem was being challenged by Washington. The background to this lay in the delay of the State Department to grant approval for a $400,000,000 housing loan that Israel had requested for settling Soviet immigrants flooding into the country. The American administration had been pressuring Israel to commit in writing its formal agreement that no Soviet Jews would be settled anywhere across the 1967 "Green Line" borders, including East Jerusalem. The prime minister gave vent to his concern as follows: „ We cannot ignore this administration's attitude toward Israel. We are „ witnessing a process; the attitude toward us in the Temple Mount event „ is nothing but an illustration of this process. They want to teach us „ a lesson, to put it (Israel) in its place. I believe they have taken „ a mistaken approach… The Israeli government felt virtually betrayed by the United States, for it considered the Temple Mount incident an act of Israeli self-defense against a violent Arab mob. In further violence perpetrated against innocent civilians, three Jews were stabbed to death in the Jerusalem Bakka neighborhood on October 21. There was no global outcry and no United Nations response. The reticence of the Security Council did little to enhance the status of the international organization in Israel's eyes. This point was confirmed when, as the world remained silent, Syria took advantage of the Gulf crisis to impose its will on Lebanon, removing General Aoun from power and killing some 700 people. In late December, Foreign Minister Levy stated that Washington had shown weakness (perhaps rather than vindictiveness) in supporting the United Nations resolution. The Israeli government was by this time unconvinced that the Gulf military coalition would have collapsed had America adopted a different approach in the Security Council. The call by UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar for the Security Council to protect the Palestinians in the Israeli-held areas was a transparent ruse, Israel considered, to undermine its authority without any political peace process in operation at all. Behind this development was an attempt by Saddam, Arafat, and others to link the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait with that of Israel from the territories. The United States officially and publicly rejected this linkage from the start of the crisis until the end of the war. Nonetheless, despite the stressful U.S.-Israel relationship, or perhaps because of it, Secretary of State James Baker conveyed a desire, as in November, for political coordination with Jerusalem on the issue of the peace process in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Whether this was a calming measure or one likely to arouse Israel's nervousness could be debated. But Yitẓḥak Shamir told the Likud Knesset faction on January 8, that "Once the Gulf crisis is over, we will have to face political threats." Military threats from the Iraqis and political threats from the Americans would, as suggested in Shamir's   own words, provide Israel with more than enough problems once the war – not yet begun – was over. -From Crisis to War On the domestic front, the crisis period beginning in August exacted a heavy price from the Israeli public. The possibility of war, in which Israel would somehow be involved, was considered likely by a majority of the population. The specific threat of chemical warfare became a weighty concern and, following a mini-national debate and some government hesitancy, the distribution of gas masks to the domestic population was begun in October. Other civil defense measures were undertaken and police readiness was maintained. In all, Israel wanted to be prepared for the possibility of war, but it did not want to convey the impression that its local defensive operations were a prelude to a preemptive tactical strike against Iraq. In the tense situation in the Gulf and beyond, Jerusalem had to act and speak with caution in order that it not inadvertently light the match in the explosive situation that Baghdad had prepared for the inevitable conflagration. After Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, tourism to Israel fell by over 40 percent. Non-citizens in Israel began to leave the country as did foreign students and visitors. The State Department in Washington ordered United States citizens to leave the Middle East, Israel included. Later in January, Jewish solidarity missions from abroad offered compensation to the somewhat demoralized and economically suffering home front. In contrast, the most satisfying and durable feature of 1990 was the astounding immigration from the Soviet Union: a monumental figure of 200,000 Jews arrived in Israel, despite Saddam's threats and the atmosphere of uncertainty in Israel that suggested the approach of war. Nonetheless, while an average of 1,000 Soviet immigrants had been arriving daily at the end of 1990, the figure dropped to 500 a day in the critical month of January 1991. The United Nations had set January 15 as the final date for a complete Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait. If not, then all measures including force would be employed to achieve this objective which international diplomacy, a remarkably tight embargo, and Arab censure could not achieve. The ultimatum date portended the start of war in the Persian Gulf. Israel was comforted by the fact that Iraqi aggression had been universally condemned and that America had stood firm – as in the Baker-Aziz Geneva meeting of January 9 – in rejecting the insidious attempt to link the Kuwaiti and Palestinian issues. In Israel it was felt that Washington had also come to realize more than before that, in essence, the broader Arab aspects of the conflict with Israel were more central than the Palestinian one. Operation Desert Storm terminated the waiting period when Allied military forces led by the United States began operations on the night between January 16 and 17, with 1,200 air missions into Iraq and Kuwait in the first 36 hours of fighting. On the 17th Saddam carried out his word, and from the areas known as H2 and H3 in western Iraq, eight Scud missiles were fired at Israel and struck civilian centers in the Tel Aviv metropolitan district. A state of alert was declared throughout Israel as the nation began to face the damage and disorder. Apartment buildings were hit, their inhabitants were evacuated, and people were injured. Warning sirens, gas masks, and huddling in sealed rooms designed to provide protection from chemical attack became part of daily life. An evening curfew brought social life, entertainment activities, sports events, and parts of the economy to a virtual standstill. During the initial three-week period of the war, many Tel Avivians abandoned their city which was Saddam's primary, though not sole, target. From the Mediterranean seashore they chose the safer environs of Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and Elath. Local patriotism gave way to personal security. Meanwhile, all Israelis were advised to carry their gas mask with them all day long. The final war tally on the civilian population, from January 17 until the last Scud attack in February, read as follows: 39 missiles hit Israel from Haifa in the North to the area of Beersheba in the South; 1,644 families were evacuated; and 4,095 buildings were damaged. Although only one person was killed due to a direct missile hit, several died resulting from misuse of their gas masks and from heart attacks. Considering the potential for havoc and ruin and death that the Scuds represented, many Israelis felt that the Jewish people had experienced a miracle. Saddam had been considerably less successful than his threats against Israel implied, while America, Britain, even Saudis, were fighting the war that defeated Israel's enemy. -The Israeli Cost-Benefit Ledger The Gulf War witnessed two innovations in the chronicles of military confrontations that Israel has faced since 1948. At one and the same time, Israel suffered the danger and indignity of its civil population being victims of enemy attack, while unlike previous Arab-Israeli wars, the IDF this time remained outside the military fray. The lack of an operative response by Israel in the face of Iraq's Scud missiles was tied directly to the exertion of American pressure. Jerusalem was brought to the point of acceding to Washington's request not to act, and thus leaving the Allied coalition to pursue the war without political complications. Prime Minister Shamir could not have been more explicit when he stated on January 28, that without consultations with the United States, Israel would not act. On the same occasion he commented that relations with Washington had improved. It was the visit to Jerusalem by Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger following the initial missile attacks, and his remaining in the country for about a week, that dramatized Washington's grave concern regarding Israeli behavior. His mission was undoubtedly to restrain Jerusalem, assure that U.S. military forces would continue to search and destroy the Scud missile launchers in western Iraq, and offer sufficient aid and assistance to mollify Israel. A report from   January 21 divulged that President Bush was calling Prime Minister Shamir regularly (as was British Prime Minister John Major). Secretary Baker declared his appreciation on February 6 for Israel's restraint. Yet the cost of Israel's restraint, in contrast to the praise earned, was cause for worry according to Israel's ambassador to Washington, Zalman Shoval. In a news report from February 11, Shoval suggested that the United States would not provide Israel with aid in the wake of the Gulf War on the pretext that Israel "is not part of it." Three particularly irksome problems strained Israeli-U.S. relations during the war period. Intelligence information on the area of H3 in Iraq was apparently not generously supplied by the Americans to the Israelis. Warning time on incoming Scuds was initially very brief, though later extended to about five minutes due to a United States agreement to improve the transfer of needed data. Moreover, throughout the weeks of war, the Pentagon refused to provide Israel with the Friend-Or-Foe Code required to facilitate an Israeli aerial attack against Iraqi missile launchers. No air corridor was opened for the Israeli air force and no time slot was set aside by the Allied forces to allow Israel the opportunity to send its forces into action. The memory of the U.S. Liberty navy surveillance ship that was mistakenly attacked by Israel on June 7, 1967, during the Six-Day War, could not have been far from people's thoughts in January 1991. Certainly Israel would not want another accident to occur, and held its fire. While suffering from Iraqi attacks and yet choosing to accommodate American wishes, or succumb to its enormous leverage, Israel became the beneficiary of global sympathy and support. The aggression and bellicosity of Saddam contrasted blatantly with Israel's peaceful and defensive demeanor. Patriot missile batteries arrived from Holland and German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, during a visit to Israel on January 24, promised extensive assistance that would include Patriot missiles, German-financed Dolphin submarines, and other military equipment. Meanwhile, the European Economic Community announced on January 25, that it was revoking sanctions that had been imposed on Israel for its policies in the territories and would renew scientific cooperation between Israel and the Common Market countries. On January 28 a French Socialist Party delegation visited Israel to express its solidarity. However, the fact that French weapons and German chemicals had been sold to Iraq in the 1980s lent an air of coolness, perhaps hypocrisy, to the European gestures. By the time the war ended in Israel, bombed-out streets in Tel Aviv and destroyed housing blocks in Ramat Gan became the visual symbols that this war, unlike most Arab wars against Israel, was conducted on Israel's own home front. Overall, from the start of the crisis to the termination of hostilities, Israel had suffered a $4 billion loss, in damages, tourism, sinking production, etc. The Patriot missile, originally designed basically as an anti-aircraft weapon, performed with only partial effectiveness against Iraq's Scuds. More often than not, the Patriot hit the Scud's engine and destroyed it, but the warhead continued on its trajectory on the path toward Israeli civilian targets. In this war unlike earlier ones, the skies over Israel were not clean of enemy activity, though on the ground Iraq was 340 kilometers from Israel's border. -Postwar Assessment From Israel's perspective, the political balance-sheet by the end of the war in late February was mixed. A total American victory on the battlefield would serve Israel's immediate security concerns, yet provide Washington with the self-esteem and international acclaim to then pursue its version of peace-making in the Middle East. Israel did not necessarily see eyeto-eye with America on the modalities of conflict-resolution, as when Jerusalem had for example questioned Baker's Five Point Plan of November 1989. Another paradox inherent in Israel's strategic calculations related to Iraq's condition at the conclusion of the war. It would seem obvious that Jerusalem wanted Iraq totally defeated and militarily devastated, lacking any major conventional and certainly nonconventional lethal capabilities. Prime Minister Shamir added on February 26, that Israel is interested "in having this person, Saddam Hussein, disappear from the international arena." Nonetheless, a less than fully flattened Iraq, and one that expressed no regret or remorse for its illegalities and aggressions, would deny it the benefits of international assistance for national rehabilitation. A defeated Iraq – yes, but an absolutely destroyed Iraq was not necessarily the optimal solution for Israel. During the course of the crisis and until the war's end, Jordan and the PLO were among the most dedicated and enthusiastic supporters of Saddam Hussein. The streets of Amman rocked with pro-Iraqi sentiments and mass vituperation against America and Israel. Yasser Arafat already early in August had gone on a political pilgrimage to Baghdad to embrace Saddam and line up the PLO behind his anti-Kuwait and pan-Arab ventures. In Judea and Samaria, and elsewhere, the Palestinians hailed Saddam as their savior and rejoiced on the roofs of their houses when Scud missiles tore apart buildings and terrified Jewish civilians in Tel Aviv. But the war served to discredit Jordan's political reputation and to delegitimize the PLO's peace image. Support for Iraq was seen as advocacy of aggression and conquest by the sword. The United States would no doubt later be challenged to resurrect the role of these two Arab elements in the comprehensive approach to regional peace. In fact, it might be concluded that Washington's own decision to accord recognition of the PLO in December 1988, and then to open an official dialogue with it, was a discredited policy. The implication of these developments for Israel under its Likud-led government was an affirmation of the policy of territorial retention of Judea and Samaria. The status quo based on Israeli control and Jewish settlement would presumably continue, a side gain from Arab misjudgments and Israeli good fortune. Although Israelis might endlessly debate the   relationship between territories and missiles in the military sphere, the persistence of Israeli rule was the dominant theme in the political sphere. Israelis would also debate whether the non-activation of the IDF irreparably harmed the army's deterrent capability, thereby contributing adversely to Israel's pre-eminent strategic standing in the Middle East. It was reasonable to conclude that while that question was subject to varied interpretation, the formidable loss to Arab esteem and dreams of glory and victory was a definite and glaring result of the crisis and Gulf War. Whether the Israelis had won was unclear, but the Arab nation had certainly lost. Another Arab myth, the Saddam myth like the earlier Nasser one, burst like a bubble in the fantasizing Orient. The Gulf War represented an occasion when the United States would again attempt to mold a New Order in the Middle East. Its Arab partners would be Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and others. Its dynamic would be military success against Iraq and its purpose generating momentum for peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Secretary of State Baker declared before the United States House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 2, that it was important "to resume the search for a just peace and real reconciliation for Israel, the Arab states, and the Palestinians." In the same spirit, signs were visible or audible that some Arab spokesmen now considered that the time for peace with Israel had arrived. Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, made unusually conciliatory statements about Israel during the crisis and war months. It might seem that the Arab-Israeli framework had now been exposed as one of various alternative political frameworks or alignments in the Mideast. Certain unexpected developments had transpired in the region. Arabs had fought Arabs, Saudis against Iraqis, and this after one Arab country, Iraq, had brazenly gone ahead and swallowed up another Arab country, Kuwait. Then, Arabs had surprisingly agreed to cooperate openly with the United States and pursue their interest in conjunction with Islamically vilified America, traditionally portrayed in satanic colors in the religiously seething Muslim world. However, an American-Arab alliance formed in the sands of the Gulf and fought to victory. In the aftermath of all this, it was perhaps possible to imagine the unimaginable: Arab-Israeli peace. Israel would be open to future political opportunities, aware as always of the dangers and risks, yet hopeful that a new realism and spirit of accommodation would come to the Middle East. (Mordechai Nisan) For the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and its coalition partners, see arab world . For its part, Israel was content to sit on the sidelines. Gas masks were replenished among the civilian population and in what proved to be a very costly miscalculation the Israeli public was instructed to unseal the masks in anticipation of possible Iraqi action, thus shortening their shelf life. Otherwise Israel was not directly affected.

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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