Israel ready to fight back


RAMAT DAVID, Israel -- Israel displayed the cutting edge of its air force at a northern base yesterday, and Defense Minister Moshe Arens promised retaliation in case of an Iraqi attack.

"If Israel is attacked, we will use the legitimate right of any country that is attacked to respond," Mr. Arens told reporters after inspecting air force units.

Mr. Arens arrived by helicopter after a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger in Jerusalem, during which the U.S. diplomat reportedly urged Israel to use restraint in the event of an Iraqi attack.

Health Minister Ehud Olmert said after the weekly Cabinet meeting: "We do not expect anyone to fight for us. We do not want anyone to protect us. We will do it ourselves."

Asked whether the Eagleburger mission was designed to persuade Israel to stay out of the Persian Gulf conflict, Mr. Olmert answered: "Whether or not there was a [U.S.] request is irrelevant. We will retaliate."

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