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 Sunday, 22 December, 2002, 17:29 GMT
Israel readies for Iraq conflict
Israeli man with gas mask
A Tel Aviv resident looks for protection in a gas mask
Israel says it will stage joint military exercises with the US as part of the country's preparations for possible attack following any strike on Iraq.

Senior Israeli official Raanan Gissin said some 1,000 US troops were expected in Israel this week with American-made Patriot anti-missile batteries.

The idea is to co-ordinate communications, and integrate Patriots with Israel's newer Arrow anti-missile systems.

Ineffective

Israel is concerned that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will respond to any US strike by launching missiles with chemical or biological warheads.

Aftermath of missile attack on Israel
Iraqi missiles struck Tel Aviv in 1991

Patriots were largely ineffective in intercepting Scud missiles that Iraq fired during the Gulf War in 1991.

Israel also announced that 6,000 citizens were to receive smallpox vaccinations in the coming days.

Israeli press reports say the country will put on high alert on 15 January.

The Israeli preparations come as the US presses ahead with plans for war in Iraq, with a big military exercise in Kuwait, involving more than 12,000 American troops.

Meanwhile, six Gulf Arab allies of the US - belonging to the Gulf Co-operation Council - have condemned Saddam Hussein for what they see as his continued threat to countries of the region.

But at the end of two days of talks, ministers failed to mention the American build-up - there are about 65,000 US military personnel in the Gulf and more are expected.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Nick Bryant
"Almost 70,000 US forces are now in the Gulf region"
  The BBC's Fiona Werge
"Soldiers are taking part in the biggest war game since the gulf war"

Key stories

Analysis

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TALKING POINT
 VOTE RESULTS
Iraq: Is war inevitable?

Yes
 58.14% 

No
 41.86% 

74035 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

21 Dec 02 | Americas
21 Dec 02 | Africa
20 Dec 02 | Middle East
22 Dec 02 | Middle East
20 Dec 02 | Politics
19 Dec 02 | Americas
19 Dec 02 | Middle East
21 Dec 02 | Middle East
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