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As war begins, no change in Israel's alert status

From Kelly Wallace and Avivit Dalgoshen
CNN


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TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- There has been no official change in alert status in Israel with the advent of what President Bush called the "opening stages" of a U.S.-led war with Iraq, an Israeli military spokesman told CNN early Thursday.

On Wednesday the Israeli military instructed citizens to begin carrying gas masks with them at all times starting Thursday.

So far, the Israeli government is not formally commenting on the U.S. operation.

"I have no specific information about military operations," said an Israeli official.

Israel was expected to get some advanced notice of the start of the American military operation. A senior Israeli official told CNN Tuesday the expectation was that Israel would learn "only hours before."

The United States has taken unprecedented steps to keep Israel out of any conflict, including allowing Israel access to classified Pentagon information during any military attack.

Israeli officials have also said that the first 48 hours of any full military attack would be most critical when it comes to Israel's security -- time for U.S. forces to gain control of western Iraq, where Iraqi missiles could be within range of Israel.


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