JERUSALEM, JAN. 8 -- As foreigners stampede to leave the country, Israelis are bracing for a climax to the Persian Gulf crisis that threatens to plunge this country into both a long-range war with Iraq and a close-quarters battle with Palestinians in the occupied territories.

After months of mounting tension, spurred by surging Palestinian unrest and repeated Iraqi threats of attack, the government and many private Israelis are now making emergency preparations reminiscent of those on the eve of the Six-Day War in 1967. Some military leaves have been canceled. Bomb shelters are being cleaned and packed with fresh supplies. At home, many families are preparing a "war room," complete with chemical-warfare gear distributed by the army.

Meanwhile, a mood approaching panic is spreading through the foreign community. In the past few days, several countries, including Germany, Sweden and Finland, have advised their citizens to leave Israel, and the United Nations has decided to evacuate dependents of its personnel here. According to Israeli radio, all but 500 of the 5,000 foreign volunteer workers in Israeli kibbutz farms also are leaving, along with most of the 550 students at Hebrew University's Overseas School.

Despite the rush, at least six of the 23 airlines serving Israel's Ben Gurion International airport have suspended service in recent days, while others have cut back on flights. The airlines, including Pan American, Alitalia and SAS, say they have been forced to act by soaring insurance rates for flights here, which reportedly now exceed $100,000 a trip.

The result has been a chaotic daily crush at the airport as both foreigners and some Israelis bid for scarce seats on departing planes. Travelers leaving today on flights to Western Europe said they had been offered up to $500 to give up their reservations by people suddenly desperate to get out.

"It makes you feel really terrible," said an Israeli who had just arrived back in the country with her young daughter. "It's like 1967 in that you feel we are being left alone to face this danger."

Even the wave of Soviet Jews migrating to Israel appears to have slowed. Jewish Agency officials reported that about 2,300 arrived in the first five days of January, compared to 12,000 in the last week of December. One official said the would-be Soviet emigrants appeared to be delaying departure to see if a war begins.

The newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth reflected that mood in an editorial, saying that the "deja vu" from 1967, when Israel faced a mobilization by three Arab powers along its borders, "should encourage us," since "then as now, the situation appeared bleak but the outcome turned out in our favor."

"Nevertheless," the paper added, "there is no guarantee that history will repeat itself."

Government and military officials continue to say that, while it is possible Israel will be attacked by Iraq after the outbreak of a Persian Gulf war, there is no reason for panic. "We tell Israelis there's no room to worry," Defense Minister Moshe Arens said in an interview published today by Yedioth Aharonoth. "The likelihood that {Iraqi President Saddam Hussein} will act against Israel isn't high. Also his ability to cause Israel physical harm is limited."

Israeli experts say that while Iraq could strike Israel with a salvo of long-range missiles, they would be unlikely to cause many casualties, even if they were armed with chemical weapons. Moreover, military officials say there is some chance U.S. or Israeli forces will be able to detect and prevent any planned Iraqi missile launch before it occurs.

Still, the military is on high alert. Through much of the country, sonic booms and the roar of jet engines can now be heard through the day as patrols of fighter and electronic surveillance planes circle overhead. Israelis say leaves in the army have been cut back and the service of some soldiers and reservists due to end their terms has been extended.

For both the army and civilians, concern over an Iraqi attack is compounded by fears that, in the event of war, Palestinians in the occupied territories will launch their own offensive against Israeli rule. Violence between Israelis and Palestinians has been mounting steadily over the past three months, and a Persian Gulf war could cause Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jersualem to rise up in support of Saddam, Israelis fear.

Leading Palestinians say the expectation is justified. "A war against Iraq will result in a response of sympathy and support for Saddam Hussein {among Palestinians} and this will express itself in increased violence in the territories," said Said Kanan, a Palestinian leader in the West Bank. Other sources said militant groups may be moved to step up the violent attacks that have killed seven Israelis since the Temple Mount riot of October, in which Jerusalem police killed 17 Palestinians.

Some Israeli observers say there seems to be more fear in the country of the Palestinians' knives than of Saddam's missiles and bombers. "The insurance underwriters would say that the real threat comes from Saddam Hussein and his missiles," said Asher Arian, a professor at Haifa University who studies the political moods of Israelis. "But for the man in the street, the real fear remains the knife-wielding Arab. It's much more immediate. And it's something that he feels less confident about in terms of the army's ability to protect him."

One Jerusalem schoolteacher said she has been driving her own children to school rather than have them walk to reduce the risk of an attack by a Palestinian. Some parents are debating whether to send their children to school at all, she said, because of the risk of an Iraqi missile attack. "It's hard to know what you should be more worried about, Saddam or the Arab at the building site next door," she said.

Israeli radio surveyed tourist agencies today and said rest houses and cottages in the country's interior were being booked up by people from Tel Aviv, the metropolis Saddam directly threatened during a recent television interview. The army also announced that it would begin distributing chemical warfare kits, including gas masks, in the interior of the country, expanding on a program in which 3 million kits have been given to urban Israelis since October.

A former head of the army's mental health department, Ron Levy, told the Haaretz newspaper today that one reason for the growing anxiety among Israelis is the country's uncomfortable position of having to wait, both for the Jan. 15 U.N. deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait or face a war, and for the threatened Iraqi attack on Israel.

"This is a classic situation of anxiety in the public, because on one hand there are all the time threats in the air amd an ultimatum date, and on the other hand there is no opportunity for action," he said.

Levy recommended that Israelis ease the tension by "preparing on a personal level for a possible emergency situation." He added: "I would advise people to clean bomb shelters, prepare food rations and practice putting on gas masks and bandages. If people are active now in this realm, the chances are that the level of anxiety will decrease."