Facebook Twitter



As allied warplanes were "searching assiduously" to find and destroy Iraq's mobile Scud missile launchers, at least three more Iraqi missiles rocked Tel Aviv early Saturday - the Jewish Sabbath.

The sounds of Israeli jets resounded in the skies, and fears mounted that the Persian Gulf war was opening a new front.Officials, fearing an Iraqi chemical attack, urged Israelis to seek the protection of gas masks and sealed rooms but later allowed Israelis to leave, saying that chemical warheads were not involved. There was no immediate word of casualties in the 7:20 a.m., local time, attack.

Baghdad radio, monitored in Jerusalem, interrupted its broadcast with a statement saying: "This moment, we are launching 11 missiles at the enemy," a source said.

There were unconfirmed police reports of five hits, and some residents said they heard 10 explosions. In Washington, a Defense Department official speaking on condition of anonymity said three missiles were launched from western Iraq toward Israel. The official had no information on where the missiles landed.

President Bush was awakened at Camp David and told of the attack but had no immediate statement.

Earlier Friday Bush condemned Iraq for launching Scuds against Israel and said, "We are going to be redoubling our efforts in the darndest search-and-destroy effort ever" to destroy the missiles and prevent further attacks.Bush also praised Israel for showing restraint and staying out of the conflict so far to ensure that the alliance's Arab members would not bolt.

But Israel promised retaliation, especially if more attacks occurred.

"So far, so good," Bush said when he opened a brief news conference at the White House at noon. "We must be realistic. There will be losses, there will be obstacles along the way. And war is never cheap or easy.

"No one should doubt or question the ultimate success, because we will prevail," the president said. "But I don't want to see us get overly euphoric about all of this."

The Pentagon also said the war is proceeding almost exactly as planned, that high-tech gear never tested in war before is performing "beautifully" and constant air attacks throughout Iraq and Kuwait are continuing.

Lt. Gen. Tom Kelly, the Army chief of staff, told a press briefing, "The campaign continues to unfold acceptably. We are happy with the results we have achieved so far. Bear in mind, we have only been doing this a short time."

The target of most allied attention was destroying the Scud missile launchers to help protect Israel and keep the alliance solid.

"We are searching assiduously for all the Scud launchers," Kelly said. "You're never satisfied with your effort until you think you've gotten them all. But we think we're doing pretty well. . . . We're searching for them assiduously every way we can, and as soon as we see one we attack it."

He said part of the problem is that the launchers can be hidden inside buildings and moved frequently. He said that is why many allied planes are in the air constantly, trying to watch for any sign of them.

Bush said Friday that Saddam Hussein "is not going to pull a victory off by waging terrorist attacks (with seven Scuds hitting Israel early Friday) against a country that is not a participant in all of this . . .. This coalition is not going to fall apart."

Kelly said that none of the four U.S. aircraft shot down was lost in dogfights. Meanwhile, U.S. aircraft have shot down eight Iraqi planes.

He said the latest U.S. plane shot down was a two-man A-6 "Intruder" bomber. The lost crew of another A-6 shot down earlier was identified Friday as Lt. Robert Wetzel, 30, and Lt. Jeffrey N. Zaun, 28.

Kelly also urged against euphoria about early successes saying, "That large (Iraqi) army is still sitting there, and it has to be routed out."


(additional information)


- Four U.S. planes shot down.

- Seven crew members missing. (See A3 for names.)

- All down behind enemy lines.

- Search-and-rescue effort under way.