Scud Injures 25 in First Attack in Nearly a Week; Shamir Indicates Restraint
Feb. 09, 1991
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ Shattering nearly a week of relative calm, an Iraqi Scud missile crashed into a street in the populous Tel Aviv area before dawn today. At least 26 people were injured and a half dozen apartments wrecked.
Residents of Tel Aviv reported hearing at least three explosions, but it wasn't known if they were from the Scud or from Patriot missiles that streaked through the night sky. It wasn't clear whether the Patriots hit the Scud.
Military censors barred publication of the location of the impact. They say such detail may help Iraq improve its aim.
A U.S. military spokesman in Saudi Arabia said U.S. F-15 fighters on patrol over Iraq had seen the Scud missile heading toward Israel, but bad weather prevented the pilots from shooting it down. The spokesman, Marine Brig. Gen. Richard Neal, said the pilots knocked out one Scud launcher in western Iraq near the Syrian border.
Neal told a military briefing in Riyadh the destruction of the missile launcher probably did away ''with the possibility of two Scud launches against the state of Israel.''
The attack - the third to take place on the Jewish Sabbath - came as Israelis were struggling back to normalcy. It was the first attack since Feb. 3.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir suggested today that Israel would continue its policy of restraint and leave attacks on Iraqi missile launchers to the allied forces in the Persian Gulf.
''The war machine of the coalition is continuing to operate with all its might,'' he said on Israel radio. ''Israel's problem is to make sure we don't suffer too many injuries and damage until the end of this murderous regime (in Iraq) is here.''
Shamir said that even though Iraq might fire a few more missiles, the danger was decreasing. U.S. pilots destroyed another launcher early today, according to U.S. military sources in Riyadh.
''We are getting closer to the end of these murderous and terrorist attacks,'' Shamir said.
A weekend newspaper poll indicated that the majority of Israelis support the government's policy of restraint. But some residents of the area hit today said they wouldn't be able to take the strain much longer.
''This is Russian roulette. People sit here afraid. They don't know when it will land on their heads,'' a distraught woman from the missile-hit area said on Israel radio.
The missile carried a conventional warhead, said Brig. Gen. Nachman Shai, the army spokesman. Despite repeated Iraqi threats to use chemical weapons against Israel, all the missiles fired so far have had conventional warheads.
Air raid sirens sounded nationwide at 2:40 a.m., the missile struck five minutes later, and after half an hour an all-clear was announced.
Residents are under standing orders to take shelter during air raids in sealed rooms and put on gas masks.
Twenty-six people were injured in the attack, though none seriously, the army said. The missile damaged 150 apartments in the quiet middle-class neighborhood, the radio said. The missile started fires, a witness said.
On one street, cottages were heavily damaged, with windows blown out and walls collapsed.
Today's missile was the 31st Iraq fired at Israel since Jan. 18 in an attempt to drag the Jewish state into the Persian Gulf War and split off some of the United States' Arab partners from the coalition against Iraq.
The Scuds have killed two people and injured nearly 300.
Twenty-eight missiles have been fired at Saudi Arabia, causing one death and about 80 injuries.
On Thursday, after several days had gone by without an attack, a special Cabinet committee ordered government offices, schools, hospitals and businesses to resume normal schedules.
But it was not certain whether all Israelis would comply.
''They want to send us to school on Sunday. Who will go to school when things are so frightening?,'' said a girl on Israel radio.