Israeli might have been better off when Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, said Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin, according to a tape recording broadcast Monday by Channel 10 TV in Jerusalem.
The TV station said the tape came from a closed meeting about a month ago between Diskin and Jewish seminary students at Eli, a hard-line Jewish settlement in the West Bank near the city of Nablus.
Diskin’s voice was heard on the tape. “Sometimes when you dismantle a system in which a tyrant controls his people by force,” he said, commenting on the US-led offensive against Saddam, “and it breaks into pieces and generates chaos, you get a situation like in Iraq.
“Is it the situation better in Iraq today compared to what it was before?” he asked. “From the Israeli point of view, we could come around to missing Saddam,” he added.
Diskin was reflecting concern that an unstable post-Saddam Iraq could include a powerful militant Shiite Muslim faction that could instigate terror attacks against Israel.
During the 1991 Gulf war, Saddam’s Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel. All had conventional warheads. They caused considerable damage but few casualties.
At the beginning of the current conflict, despite dire warnings from Israeli military and security chiefs, Saddam did not attempt to attack Israel.