British Ambassador to Israel Sherard Cowper-Coles, Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer participate in a solidarity prayer for U.S. and British forces in Iraq.Israel has offered to assist the Iraqi people with humanitarian aid. Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom made the offer in New York at the end of the week during a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“About the war in Iraq, we are out of this war,” Shalom told reporters at the United Nations, before going on to Washington. “But, if there are humanitarian steps that the United Nations will take, and if he (Annan) wants the members of the U.N. to participate, we will be able to be a part of it,” Shalom said.
Shalom said this could include medical equipment and other supplies “to relieve the situation of the Iraqi people.”
A spokesman for Israel´s U.N. mission said it was the first time Israel had mentioned such relief assistance for Iraq. Iraq fired Scud missiles into Israel during the 1991 Gulf War and Saddam Hussein has threatened a repeat performance, often mentioning Israel in speeches.
According to the New York Daily News, Israel has been a silent, but active participant in the coalition front against Iraq.
Israel’s sophisticated Amos 4 satellite routinely beams data to U.S. intelligence, and Israeli agents in Baghdad have provided extremely sensitive intelligence, sources told the paper.
Israel has been particularly aggressive in the desert of western Iraq, where its Sayeret Matkal commando force, in tandem with U.S. and Australian special forces, has run covert operations hunting for Scud missile launch sites.
An Arab intelligence official with details of the mission told The News the Israelis went in when satellite technology failed.
According to the Associated Press, with U.S. forces in Iraq coming up against suicide attackers and wary of ambush by hostile forces mingling with civilians, the military has been listening closely to Israeli experts and picking up tips from years of Israeli army operations in Palestinian areas and Lebanese towns.
Martin Van Creveld, professor of military history and strategy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, briefed U.S. Marine Corps officers in September at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He said he was quizzed about the April 2002 battle in the Jenin refugee camp, where 52 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers were killed in fierce firefights as troops hunted suspected terrorists door-to-door.
The refugee camp’s narrow alleys at first prevented Israeli tanks from advancing against about 150 Palestinian gunmen. Instead, infantrymen backed by helicopter gunships slowly made their way forward, moving house to house by blowing holes through inner walls, limiting exposure to dangerous streets where militiamen had planted explosives and snipers waited on rooftops.
Van Creveld told AP that he told his hosts the most effective tools in Jenin were Apache helicopters and giant, armored D9 bulldozers that cut wide swaths through alleys to clear the way for tanks.
A U.S. defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the Pentagon sought Israel’s input on urban warfare. Retired infantry Col. Randy Gangle, now of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab at Quantico, Va., said Israeli officers were among military men from many nations who visited the facility to exchange views on urban combat and other tactical issues.
“With the Israeli experience in the intifada(Palestinian uprising), we appreciated their input,” he told AP.
Israel has also been active in expressing solidarity with the coalition efforts in Iraq. The United States and British ambassadors to Israel participated at a special prayer service last week organized by Israel for the safety of the allied forces, the prisoners of war, the missing in action and the civilians injured in the war in Iraq.
The service took place at Bar-Ilan University and was attended by the institutions leadership, faculty and students.
U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer thanked the University for its initiative and expressed hope for the safe return of all the troops. “This is a just war for the liberation of the Iraqi population from the terror of Saddam Hussein and the elimination of nuclear, chemical and biological threat from Iraq. We appreciate the support of the Israeli government and the entire Israeli public,” said Kurtzer in Hebrew.
British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles, also speaking in Hebrew, said: “We thank the government and people of Israel for their support of the coalition forces laboring in the Gulf. We hope to see peace not just for Israel but for the people of Iraq and the entire Middle East.”
Following the service, Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Moshe Kaveh appealed to the public-at-large to recite a special prayer on the upcoming Jewish Sabbath for the success of the allied effort.
The text of the prayer is:
Prayer for the Safety of the Coalition Forces
May the Almighty deliver us our enemies who arise against us, may the Holy One, blessed be He, preserve the soldiers of the Allied Forces fighting in Iraq and save them from all sorrow and peril, from danger and ill. May He send blessing and success in all their endeavors, may He deliver to them those who hate them and crown them with salvation and victory, so that the saying may be fulfilled through them, For the Lord, your god, who walks with you and to fight your enemies for you and to save you, and let us say,
Support for the American and British effort in Iraq remains high within the Israeli public, with recent polls putting support at approximately 60 percent.
A hotel in Jerusaelm, The Jerusalem Gold Hotel, temporarily changed its name to the George W. Bush Hotel, hanging a large banner outside.
“I think George W. Bush has a lot of courage, and we wanted to express appreciation and solidarity with him,” said Ariela Schmida-Doron, owner of the 200-bed hotel.