Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Israel plans to kill Saddam in 1992

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) planned to assassinate Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 1992, Israelimedia reported Tuesday.


Israel Defense Forces (IDF) planned to assassinate Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in 1992, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

The assassination plan was made in retaliation for Iraq's firing39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf war, but it was cancelled after five soldiers were killed in a training exercise for the mission.

Israeli military censors lifted the ban Monday on the publication of the story in detail after the capture of Saddam.

The Maariv daily reported that Sayeret Matkal, the IDF General Staff's elite special-operations force, planned to land in Iraq, ambush Saddam's convoy attending the funeral of the Iraqi president's uncle, and fire two missiles at the entourage.

Then, they would fly out of Iraq after the assassination on an Israeli plane that would take off from a temporary airfield built in Iraq, the report said.

Israel Army Radio reported the troops were volunteers, who understood that they were to "fight to the death" and to commit suicide rather than allow themselves to be captured.

However, the attempt was cancelled after five Israeli soldiers for the mission killed in a training exercise at the Tze'elim training base in the south of Israel.

The five soldiers were playing as Saddam Hussein and his bodyguards, and then the commandos fired a dummy missile at them. But a real missile was substituted, killing the five soldiers.

The top commanders of the Israeli military were at the base to watch the exercise, including the chief of staff Ehud Barak, who later became Israel's prime minister, according to Israel Army Radio.

Israeli Labor Lawmaker Ephraim Sneh Tuesday confirmed the reports. He said then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had ordered the operation.

"The credit should be given to the prime minister because it was his courage to approve this operation," Sneh told media.

He said like the Israeli operation in Uganda 1976 that freed hostages from a hijacked airplane, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had ordered the operation.

But he refused to give more details.

Shabtai Shavit, a former Mossad chief, was quoted by the Army Radio as saying that he is afraid that the publication of the mission training may cause Israel serious security harm.

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