Thursday, June 10, 2010

THE SCRIBE, JOURNAL OF BABYLONIAN JEWRY, 'Under Scud Missile Attacks,' by Percy Gourgey MBE

July 1991

On the day that the land war against Iraq
began, 24 February, I flew to Israel as a
member of a Solidarity Mission. Ben-Gurion
airport, normally full of hustle and bustle,
was practically deserted, except for a few
officials. It reminded me of the Yore Kippur War of 1978 in which I was a war
correspondent - the only difference being
that at that time we landed in almost total
darkness, because of the black-out,
At the airport we were issued with gas
masks and instructions on their use, including
the precautions - a special powder and
a needle against the use of mustard gas and
nerve gas, A few hours tater we experienced
our first attack. The wailing sound of
the air-raid siren sounded through the clear
night air - 3am - and the warning over the
hotel tannoy system, in Hebrew and then
in English, requiring us to take our gas
masks and proceed to the sealing rooms
(hedarim atomim). I awoke alarmed, with
barely a minute to don a dressing gown and
grab my mask and go upstairs.

The scene that confronted me was grim
indeed. A number of men and women, in
various kinds of attire, some wearing gas
masks, others not, but all with drawn,
anxious expressions, and a little child crying
uncontrollably. For them it was a repeat
performance of a nightmare scenario, as
Israel had sustained 39 Scud attacks,

Everywhere in Israel the warnings sounded,
as no one was sure where the missiles
would land, although the Iraqis had targeted
them for special areas. All the windows in
the room were completely scaled and there
was a television set in the corner to instruct
us on possible steps to be taken and also
when the emergency would be over.

I felt mixed reactions of fear and anger that
Israel was dragged into this conflict because
of a mad dictator's whim and a sense
of frustration that she did not respond,
though for the best of reasons - to keep
President Bush's allied forces together.

A day later I visited Ramat Gan, just
outside Tel Aviv, which received over six
direct hits and where many h'aqi Jews live.
The devastation has to be seen to be
believed. The Deputy-Mayor told us his
house was totally destroyed in what
appeared to be a minor "Dante's Inferno"
and, by a miracle, he and his wife escaped.
Large craters were still to be seen.

Israeli restraint in the face of these
unprovoked attacks was admirable and
deserves far more recognition from the
international community than has so far
been shown both by way of political and
material recompense. Full information as
to the damage caused was suppressed
during the war to avoid helping the Iraqi
military establishment,

While the Scuds fly at the rate of a mile a second, the Patriots
travel at the rate of a mile and a half a
second. The Scuds are launched to a height
of about 200 kilometers, but a problem was
that the Patriots did not intercept and
destroy them high enough so that considerable
damage was caused by the falling

Most of the 39 Scud missiles launched
against Israel, at 5-minute flying time
from Western Iraq, were negatived, and by
a miracle more loss of life and property was
not caused.
The start of the land war was considered
a particularly dangerous time as it was
thought at the time that a desperate
Saddam Hussein would resort to chemical
and biological weapons, using artillery
shells or planes. Doubtless he was deterred
by the Americans' and Israel's possession
of weapons of mass destruction,

After the cease fire the overwhelming
feeling in Israel was that the Allied troops
should have entered Baghdad, UN Resolutions
notwithstanding, but that, in any
case, Saddam Hussain and his evil Baathist
regime must be removed if the "peace and
security" called for in UN Resolution 678,
authorizing force to remove Iraq from
Kuwait, are to be achieve


Where are the Jews of Iraq?
The Iraqi Jews around the world and in
Israel seem unseen, unknown. Traditionally,
they preferred to be passive in political
affairs in Iraq to avoid further persecution
and harassment.

This trend was evident during the Scud
missiles attack on Israel by Saddam Hussein.
The Scuds hit almost only the Iraqi
Jews and their properties in Tel Aviv and
Ramat Gun. Many European Jews were
quick to condemn the attack by interviews
with reporters of the press and TV, Prime
Minister Shamir compared Saddam Hussein
to Hitler and European Jews compared the
attack to the Holocaust.

But not a single Iraqi Jew raised his
voice and linked the attack to the Farhud
of 1941 in Iraq. It is as if the Iraqi Jews do
not exist!.

Please speak louder. I cannot hear you!O
Great Neck, Prof. Albert Khabbaza MD

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