In a rare tape that was released Thursday by the IDF Archives, Dan Shomron, who was the IDF chief of staff during the 1991 Gulf War, is heard revealing that the defense minister at the time wanted to attack Saddam Hussein in retaliation for the missiles that he fired at Israel.
Arens and Barak Photo Credit: The Israeli Defense Ministry’s IDF Archives
The Israeli Defense Ministry’s IDF Archives released newly declassified records the Frist Gulf War on Thursday, marking 27 years since the 1991 conflict. The records include a tape in which then-IDF Chief of Staff Dan Shomron revealed that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens had a plan to attack Saddam Hussein.
“I had some tensions with Arens,” Shomron is heard saying in the recording. “I presented him the plan of the air force commander on Saturday morning, after the first missile attack. Arens called [US Defense Secretary Dick] Cheney and told him- ‘move your planes, we want to attack in western Iraq.’” Shomron added that he was against the idea of an attack because he thought that such a move would ruin the work being carried out by the international coalition, which included various Arab states.
In a different recording, Arens, who is now 92 years old, recalled his trip to the US with Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Ehud Barak during the war. In Washington, the two met with US President George H. W. Bush and Arens informed the American leader that the Patriot missiles have failed to intercept the Iraqi Scud missiles.
“The next missile could be chemical, we can’t wait any longer and I’m asking that you coordinate with us and we will launch an operation,” Arens said that he told Bush. “Bush was really angry. ‘What, you can do what we can’t?’ he said. I didn’t want to be a jerk and tell him, ‘Yes, yes, we can.’”
Damage caused by Iraqi Scud missiles Photo Credit: The Israeli Defense Ministry’s IDF Archives
Arens added that in a different discussion with senior US officials, he was told: “If you want to launch an operation, we will just pull out of the region and you guys can do whatever you want.”