War fears grow as Israelis start recruiting overseas

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War fears grow as Israelis start recruiting overseas

By Suzanne Goldenberg in Jerusalem

Israel's army has announced plans to open overseas recruiting stations, sparking predictions of an all-out war with the Palestinians.

Ten months into the Palestinian uprising against Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, an army spokeswoman said on Friday that recruitment offices for army reservists would open in nine cities which were home to more than 100,000 expatriate Israelis, including London, New York, Los Angeles, Bombay and Bangkok.

"It is for Israeli reservists around the world," the spokeswoman said, "but it is very, very specialised, for emergencies only. Even if there is a war in Israel, they won't be mobilised on the first or second day - only if there is a long war."

Israeli military intelligence and top commanders have been playing down the likelihood of an all-out war against Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority, but this latest announcement is bound to fuel prophesies of one.

In recent days, Israeli and foreign media have printed several versions of alleged battle plans, ranging from an all-out assault by 30,000 Israeli soldiers to a more modest campaign aimed at retaking select portions of Palestinian-ruled land.

"They are talking about the next war as if it is a product that is just about to hit the shelves," an editorial in the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper said last week.

The newspaper, the largest circulation Hebrew daily, broke the story of the overseas recruitment campaign on its website. "The advertising campaign has already passed its peak and the lethal product will be on the market in no time," it said.

Israel has three years of compulsory military service for men and women, with an estimated 425,000 reservists also on call.

The atmosphere of gloom in the area deepened on Friday after a roadside shooting attack by extremist Jewish settlers that killed three Palestinians, including a three-month-old baby, from the same family.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres condemned the attack and promised: "Israel will apprehend those who perpetrated the abominable murder."

The Sun-Herald


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 21, 2001


I'm not jewish but where can I sign up?

-- Steve McClendon (ke6bjd@yahoo.com), July 21, 2001.

Steve, Here are some places you may sign up.

Saturday, 21 July, 2001, 16:29 GMT 17:29 UK Israel prepares for international call-up

The Israeli army is preparing to open call-up centres in nine cities around the world in case it needs to summon citizens living or travelling abroad for military service.

The offices are due to open in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Bombay, Bangkok and Johannesburg, and a South American location is being considered as well.

Israelis tend to fly back home very quickly in times of crises - organised recruiting stations will make the task easier Lt Col Zaher Atef

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------- A military spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency that the centres were being organised because the army has to be "prepared for every eventuality". An Israeli officer told the daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot that the army would only begin recruiting from abroad if the ongoing low-level conflict escalates.

"Israelis tend to fly back home very quickly in times of crisis," Lieutenant Colonel Zaher Atef told the newspaper.

"Organised recruiting stations, when and if they're needed, will make the task easier for them as well as for the army."

Israeli security sources do not expect the 10-month old conflict with the Palestinians to develop into full-scale war.

Military visits

But Yediot Ahronot reported that military officers are visiting Israeli embassies around the world to make sure lists of personnel living abroad are up to date.

Most Jewish Israeli men are drafted for three years of military service, starting when they are 18, and they do several weeks of reserve duty each year until they are 51.

Most women serve one year and nine months. Most do not do reserve duty, although the army has recently decided that some should begin to do so.

The Israeli army has a standing force of 186,000 troops and some 445,000 reserves, according to Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Centre for Strategic Studies.

Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens live abroad, and many young people travel after finishing their military service.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1450000/145 0403.stm

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 21, 2001.

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