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Attack on Iraq could start a war in Israel

Here's an article from today suggesting that war on Iraq could 
inflame other areas of the middle east, particularly 
Palastine/Isreal. The US takes a lot of intrest in Isreal, so perhaps 
this is a consideration the 'war party' might take seriously. The 
latter half of the article goes on to talk about Iraqi christians.

Attack on Iraq could start a war in Israel 

A U.S. military strike against Iraq could rupture the
fragile peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

As the prospect of an attack against Iraq looms, angry
Palestinians are taking to the streets to express
their support for Saddam Hussein. They are threatening
retaliation against Israel if the United States attacks
Iraq. Hamas, the terrorist group that has carried
out numerous bombing raids against Israel, has said
it will not tolerate U.S. aggression against Iraq. 

"We will not stand by with our arms folded
if Iraq is subjected to American military aggression," a Hamas
publication recently distributed in the West Bank
warned. Palestinians are angered by the economic boycott
against Iraq. "There is so much hatred in the street,
such a sense of humiliation and defeat," a Palestinian
political science professor said. "And the greater
the effort to bottle that anger up, the more likely
it is that it will explode."   

There is a danger that the Palestinians "will drag
Yasser Arafat into action," said David Dolan, an American
journalist who has lived in Israel for 17 years. Arafat,
under pressure from Israeli and U.S. leaders to control
Palestinian protests, has cracked down on pro-Iraq
rallies in the West Bank and shut down a television
station for airing commentaries supporting Saddam.
The situation could deteriorate beyond Arafat's control,
or he might even sense an opportunity to carry out
a successful uprising against Israel, Dolan told Religion

The situation differs drastically from seven years
ago. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israel controlled the
West Bank, and its troops sealed off the area. Since
then, in accordance with the 1993 peace accords signed
by Arafat and then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli
troops have pulled out of the Gaza Strip, about a
quarter of the West Bank territories, and almost all
Palestinian towns. These areas, now controlled by
the Palestinian Authority, could be used by armed
Palestinians to stage attacks on Israel, Dolan said.   

If Israel responds with force to a Palestinian uprising,
the consequences could be terrible. "If they are forced
to go all out and bomb Palestinian towns
that would be very dramatic and stir up great passions," among
neighboring Arab nations, Dolan said. Arafat might
call on sympathetic nations such as Syria and Iran
to aid the Palestinian effort. While Saddam is Arafat's
closest political ally, Syria and Iran have a greater
military capability, he said.     

Israel would almost certainly retaliate if it was
attacked by Iraq. In 1991, under great pressure from
U.S. President George Bush, Israeli leaders did not
respond to 39 Iraqi Scud missiles, which killed one
person and wounded several dozen. Although President
Clinton has made the same request, it is unlikely
that the Israelis will again withhold a response.
"They felt it was a mistake not to respond in 1991,"
Dolan said. If Iraq uses non-conventional weapons
such as biological or chemical agents, Israel will
retaliate with overwhelming force, he said. 

A limited attack on Iraq by the United States will
stir up trouble without bringing a resolution to the
situation, Israeli leaders say. "They feel there should
be only two options: No attack at all, or a total
strike that eliminates Saddam and his regime," Dolan
said. Anything less will only "stir up the hornets'
nest, allow Saddam to shut out the United Nations
inspection teams, and embark on an unencumbered pursuit
of the development of nuclear weapons." A full-scale
attack on the country is justified because Saddam
has developed the weapons in violation of U.N. prohibitions,
many Israelis believe. 

Christians in the Middle East fear a backlash against
their churches after an attack. Christians are generally
viewed with suspicion in Middle Eastern countries
because Christianity is seen as a Western religion,
said Ed Epp of the Mennonite Central Committee. Church
leaders in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and Iran fear that
mob violence could break out against Christians if
the United States attacks an Arab nation, he said.
Epp visited Iraq as part of humanitarian effort in
1997 and maintains frequent contact with Christians

Christians in Iraq are generally well treated and
view the West with greater suspicion than they do
Saddam, Epp said. "It is hard to tell them about the
brutality of Saddam's regime, when the U.N. embargo
is killing thousands of children a month," he said.
Although a minority in the country, Saddam has given
government money to Christians so they can build churches.
Christians are allowed to hold government positions. 

Some Iraqi Christians, however, have expressed misgivings
about their relationship with the government. "There
are leaders who have said that at some point they
will have to answer for their connection with the
government," Epp said. In another category altogether
are Kurdish the Christians of northern Iraq, who are
subject to persecution by militant Muslim groups. 

The Christian community in Iraq has dwindled since
the Gulf War. Almost one-third of all Christians have
left the country because of economic sanctions imposed
by the U.N. in 1990. "There's no stability," said
Chaldean Roman Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Delli. Others
are leaving because they fear that the ouster of Saddam
would result in the rise of an Islamic fundamentalist
regime. "They know there are elements in society that
could erupt. It will be violent," one bishop said. 

Iraqi Christians living outside their country say
they fear for their families back home. A church located
in one Mideastern nation prayed recently for expatriate
Iraqi Christians. Jordanian, Palestinian, Syrian,
Dutch, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, and American Christians
gathered around the Iraqi believers and prayed for
their families and for a peaceful solution to the
crisis, an American missionary in the country said.
One of the Iraqi women asked for God's forgiveness
and mercy for Iraq, and prayed that God would give
President Clinton and Saddam wisdom.  

"Reprinted with permission from Media Management,"
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