A day after Iraqi leaders called for an end to the Persian Gulf war, Iraq lobbed another volley of Scud missiles at southern Israel Saturday, the 14th attack since allied forces started their bruising air assault on Baghdad.
"Two missiles were launched from western Iraq. They fell in several places," Brig. Gen. Nachman Shai, the chief Israeli army spokesman, told citizens across the country on all radio and television channels. Alarms blared in the streets at 8:15 p.m., and the missiles fell a few minutes later.It was the first time Iraq launched its Scud-B warheads at Israel's southern Negev desert, which accounts for a full half of the country's tiny geographical area wedged between Egypt, Jordan and the Red Sea. Officials said the missiles carried conventional high-explosive warheads and did not contain chemical weapons.
Although the Negev region is not heavily populated, the desert contains many military bases and is home to Israel's Dimona nuclear plant. It was not made clear if the missiles came anywhere close to such targets.
After telling people to take off their gas masks and releasing them from their sealed rooms at 8:55 p.m., Shai said there were no reports of injuries or damage from the attack.
Following an Israeli policy that has evolved since the missiles started falling Jan. 18, Shai would not say exactly where the missiles fell or whether U.S.-manufactured Patriot missile-killers were fired at the Iraqi warheads.
The previous two attacks on Israel came several hours apart last Monday evening and early Tuesday morning. Monday's missile landed in an uninhabited area in the central part of the country, causing no damages, while the Tuesday strike caused several light and moderate injuries, authorities said.
Two Israelis have died as a direct result of the missile strikes, which began Jan. 18, and about 300 have been wounded. Several thousand Israelis, mostly in the Tel Aviv area, have been made homeless.