TEL AVIV, Israel -- Another missile attack from Iraq last night seemed dramatically timed to underscore Israel's fears of a Moscow peace plan that would leave Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in power.
Officials here seized the opportunity to renew their warnings that Iraq's dictator must not survive this war in office.
"Anybody who had any thought that Saddam Hussein wants peace got his answer tonight," Avi Pazner, a spokesman for the prime minister, said shortly after the single Iraqi missile fell in pieces to the ground near Tel Aviv at 8 p.m.
The Iraqi rocket appeared to have been intercepted by one of two Patriot defensive missiles that raced toward it. There were no casualties.
"The cruel dictator of Baghdad knows only one language, the language of terror and violence," Mr. Pazner said. "This region of the world will not know one day of peace as long as his military machine has not been crushed."
The air raid warning interrupted a meeting of the Israeli defense minister with Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and three other senators.
Israeli officials have watched with some apprehension as the peace
plan developed in Moscow and with some relief as President Bush seemed to scuttle the plan in its infancy.
Israel does not share the ambiguity of the United States over what the purpose of the war should be. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir stated bluntly last Friday, "Saddam Hussein must be taken off the map."
They fear if Mr. Hussein is left in power with any military arms, he will sooner or later use them against Israel. Even if he withdraws from Kuwait, his political survival could make him more popular and powerful in an Arab world usually hostile to Israel, officials here say.
"We have no doubt that if Saddam Hussein stays in power, before long the area will face a new and more sinister threat," Moshe Raviv, deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, said yesterday.
Analysts here believe it is in Israel's interest that the bombardment of Iraq continue so more of Iraq's military might is demolished. Defense Minister Moshe Arens said yesterday that he trusted the United States to pursue that goal.
"I think that by the time President Bush's objectives have been achieved, not much will be left of the Iraqi military potential," he said.
A negotiated settlement might scotch Israel's chance to carry out its promised retribution for the Iraqi missile attacks.