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February 21, 2003

Israel's 'six-hour US warning'

Not much time but better than no warning at all
The Israeli army expects no more than six hours' notice from the United States before the launch of an offensive in Iraq, the daily Haaretz said, quoting Israeli defence sources.

"A number of Israel Defence Forces units are preparing for the attack on Iraq under the assumption that they will enjoy only a six-hour warning prior to the start of the offensive," the newspaper said.
"In spite of extensive talks on the subject, Israel has still not received an American commitment to provide an early warning prior to its attack on Iraq," it added.

AFP could not obtain any US or Israeli confirmation of the information.

Israel has obtained an US commitment to destroy Iraqi firepower in the western provinces closest to the Jewish state in the early stages of any offensive.

During the 1991 Gulf war, Iraq retaliated for the US offensive by firing 39 Scuds on Israel, killing two and wounding hundreds.

General Charles Simpson, who was recently appointed chief US liaison officer in Israel, will arrive in Tel Aviv this weekend for an indefinite stay, in what the newspaper said signalled the beginning of the countdown to the US offensive.