January 17, 1991

Scud Attack on Israel


Downed Scud

On January 17, at 3 AM, the Iraqis fired seven Scud missiles at Israel. Israelis, based on Saddam's earlier threats to burn half of Israel with chemical weapons, awaited the missiles wearing gas masks. The Scuds only had conventional warheads, but their terror value was immense. The Israelis, following their long-stated doctrine, wanted to retaliate massively immediately. However, Washington heavily pressured Jerusalem not to respond. To convince Israel not to respond to the Scud attacks that continued, the US promised to increase the number of aircraft sorties aimed at Scud sites. It also rushed Israel Patriot missile systems, with American crews, that had been modified to intercept incoming Scuds. The Patriots were of greater psychological value than actual military value. Scud firing slowly decreased but never stopped until the war ended.