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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 13:21 GMT
Israel planned to kill Saddam
By Barbara Plett
BBC correspondent in Jerusalem

Israel has revealed there was a plan to assassinate Saddam Hussein in 1992, but the operation was called off after a training accident.

The military censor lifted the ban on publishing the story following the capture of the former Iraqi leader.

Israeli girl injured in a Scud attack in 1991
Iraq fired dozens of Scuds at Israel during the Gulf War

The plan was meant to retaliate for Iraqi Scud missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War.

For years there had been rumours that Israel plotted to kill Saddam Hussein shortly after the war.

Now that the former Iraqi leader has been captured Israeli officials have confirmed that was indeed the plan.

Commandos

The idea was to drop Israeli commandos deep inside Iraqi territory.

They were supposed to fire specially designed missiles at Saddam Hussein during the funeral of his uncle.

Israeli officials said training for the operation was approved by the late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.

But the plan was never brought before the government for final approval and it was dropped when five soldiers were killed by a live missile used accidentally during an exercise.

The assassination was meant to retaliate for Scud missile attacks from Baghdad during the war.

Israel did not respond at the time because of intense pressure from the United States, but many security officials felt that Israel's restraint had undermined its deterrence capability.

One said hitting Saddam Hussein was seen as a strategic necessity.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Barbara Plett
"Commando unit was supposed to target Saddam Hussein"



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