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Israel takes a beating in world opinion

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  • Josh Pollack
    Jordan Times August 2, 2001 Palestinians call for revenge, Israel defiant after killings Agencies http://www.jordantimes.com/Thu/news/news1.htm UP TO 100,000
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2001
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      Jordan Times
      August 2, 2001
      Palestinians call for revenge, Israel defiant after killings
      Agencies

      http://www.jordantimes.com/Thu/news/news1.htm

      UP TO 100,000 Palestinians massed on the West Bank town of Nablus on
      Wednesday for the funeral of six Islamic activists and two children killed
      by Israeli occupation forces, crying vengeance against Israel and any of
      their brethren caught aiding the Jewish state.
      The anger later spread to the southern West Bank town of Hebron where a
      Palestinian man was killed in a fierce hours-long gunbattle that erupted in
      the heart of the divided Palestinian town .

      Three other Palestinians, including a child who was shot in the hand, and a
      Jewish settler were slightly hurt in the battle which erupted amid
      heightened tension in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Tuesday's Israeli
      helicopter missile strike.

      Washington called �excessive� Tuesday's strike in the West Bank town of
      Nablus on the office of a top official of Hamas resistance group.

      The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) called it a massacre and renewed a
      call for international monitors in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

      Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak spoke of a new �cycle of revenge� that
      would exact a heavy price from all sides.

      But Israeli political sources said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had decided
      at a five-hour meeting with top ministers to continue the assassinations of
      Palestinian activists.

      �Israel will continue to reserve its basic right to self-defence and to
      fulfil its obligation to protect the lives of its citizens,� Sharon's office
      said in a statement.

      Invoking Jewish religious teachings, Israeli occupation army spokesman
      Brigadier-General Ron Kitrey said: �We had all the justification in the
      world, in the sense of `If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him
      first'.�

      Israel said the high-profile Hamas official it killed, Jamal Mansour, had
      been part of a Hamas command responsible for a long series of deadly attacks
      including a Tel Aviv disco suicide bombing that killed 21 people, mainly
      youngsters, on June 1.

      `Revenge, revenge'

      Sharon defended the missile strike to US Secretary of State Colin Powell in
      a telephone conversation on Wednesday, saying Israel had the same right to
      defend itself as the United States, an Israeli political source said.

      Bullets also flew in other parts of the West Bank and Gaza where the Israeli
      army said soldiers had come under Palestinian fire in several areas. There
      were no reports of casualties.

      An Israeli tank shelled Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip on
      Wednesday, damaging one house but causing no casualties, a Palestinian
      security official said.

      The official said the tank fired two shells from the flashpoint Jewish
      settlement of Netzarim, south of Gaza City. There was no report of previous
      provocations.

      Raanan Gissin, a senior aide to Sharon, claimed the Hamas activists killed
      in Tuesday's strike had been planning new operations in the occupied
      Palestinian city of Jerusalem, where a high security alert is in effect and
      a pipe bomb exploded in a park on Wednesday.

      In Nablus, up to 100,000 Palestinians chanting �Revenge, revenge� and �Death
      to Israel� marched in an emotional funeral procession for the eight dead.

      Some of the mourners fired shots in the air amid cries for a jihad, or holy
      struggle, against Israel.

      �Our children are dying under the shoes of the Israeli soldiers and (Arab
      leaders) are sleeping in their chairs,� one mourner lamented.

      The crowd repeated slogans chanted by a Hamas activist, warning Palestinians
      who collaborated with Israel to �give yourselves up now or you will be
      hanged.�

      A Palestinian man suspected of collaborating with the Israelis was killed by
      masked men in Beit Sahur near Bethlehem late Tuesday. Three others, accused
      of collaboration in an Israeli hit on an official linked to Palestinian
      leader Yasser Arafat's Fateh party, were sentenced to death by a court in
      Nablus.

      The cries for vengeance were mostly directed against the Jewish state,
      though, with one speaker telling the crowd: �Whoever attacks you, you must
      attack him.�

      A speaker of the Fateh movement said �our response will be cruel and hard,�
      adding that �Hamas is our brother.�

      One woman, a relative of one of the victims, called in a flood of tears for
      God to wreak vengeance on the traitors who killed Mansour, said by Israel to
      be behind a string of deadly attacks that have left 37 Israelis dead and 376
      injured. Most of the crowd were dry-eyed, however, venting their emotions
      instead through the constant hail of shooting.

      The killing of the children, who were walking past Mansour's office at the
      time, was an acute embarrassment for Israel.

      Israeli occupation army chief Shaul Mofaz told reporters that if they had
      known children were in the vicinity they would have called off the attack.

      �We have no desire to escalate the situation,� he said.

      Wrapped in traditional Arab head-dresses, the pale and still slightly bloody
      faces of the eight- and 10-year-old brothers, Bilal and Ashraf Khalil,
      peeked out of the Palestinian flags used as their burial shrouds.

      The six men were buried in green religious banners after being carried aloft
      on stretchers.

      One of Israel's leading doves, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, said it had
      had no alternative but to launch the attack to stop bombers from reaching
      its cities.

      �We are very sad about the two children who were killed. It's the last thing
      we wanted to happen,� he told Israel's Channel Two television.

      But he added: �If someone is moving around with a bomb in his hand, we know
      that if he's not stopped at the first opportunity, there is nowhere else to
      stop him.�

      `Human shields'

      Gissin accused Hamas of allowing children into volatile areas for use as
      �human shields�.

      Hamas's spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin warned after the missile strike
      that Israelis would pay a �heavy price.�

      Overnight, suspected Palestinian gunmen shot and wounded three Israeli
      settlers west of the West Bank city of Ramallah.

      US President George Bush spoke to His Majesty King Abdullah by telephone on
      Tuesday and told reporters the United States urged the parties to reduce the
      violence.

      And US State Department spokesman Charles Hunter called the Israeli attack
      �excessive� and �highly provocative.� The United States brokered a ceasefire
      in June that never took hold.

      The Palestinian National Authority accuses Israel of assassinating some 60
      Palestinian activists since September.

      Meanwhile, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat began a series of talks in
      Rome to drum up support from Italy and Pope John Paul for international
      monitors in the West Bank and Gaza.

      In comments at the start of the 24-hour visit to Italy, Arafat warned that
      the violence in the Middle East could spiral out of control and have
      repercussions beyond the region if an international force isn't deployed.

      �Their presence is very important, and they should be deployed quickly � and
      in the largest numbers possible,� he said.

      The Palestinian leader met Wednesday with Italian President Carlo Azeglio
      Ciampi and the foreign minister, Renato Ruggiero. On Thursday, talks were
      scheduled with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Rome's mayor and
      center-left opposition leaders.

      Pope John Paul II was planning to see Arafat at the pontiff's summer retreat
      outside Rome on Thursday. The two have met on a number of occasions.

      Storm of criticism

      The killings in Nablus brought down a storm of international criticism on
      Israel for its policy of �preventative� attacks on Palestinans seen as �a
      risk to state security�.

      Enraged Palestinians protested in Lebanon's largest refugee camp on
      Wednesday, demanding revenge for the fatal Israeli attack.

      Led by officials of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's mainstream Fateh
      faction, some 4,000 Palestinians gathered at the northern entrance to the
      Ein Al Hilweh camp on the outskirts of Sidon carrying Palestinian flags and
      pictures of people killed in fighting that erupted last September.

      �With our blood, with our souls, we redeem you Oh Palestine!� and �Oh
      Jerusalem, we shall return!� the refugees cried. Some called for revenge
      attacks from inside Lebanon.

      At a sit-in outside the United Nations Relief and Works Agency office in
      Sidon, protesters shouted, �We want to fight, we want to die, let them (Arab
      leaders) open up the borders!�

      In the southern port city of Tyre, some 60 protesters from the Democratic
      Front for the Liberation of Palestine gathered outside the UN logistics
      office and delivered a memorandum calling on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
      to stop Israeli attacks on Palestinians and to deploy an international
      protection force.

      Meanwhile in Beirut, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a branch of Palestinian
      leader Yasser Arafat's Fateh group, threatened to attack �Zionists and their
      American allies�.

      French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said that �acts as provocative as the
      one committed today in Nablus run the risk of completely dismantling efforts
      to establish security cooperation.�

      �It's a dead end,� he concluded.

      Russia's foreign ministry said �it is very evident that violence only leads
      to more violence, and the inadequate use of force only deepens the hostile
      relations between the two sides.�

      The German government said Wednesday the Israeli attack threatened to
      further escalate violence in the Middle East and called on both sides in the
      conflict to act responsibly.

      �Yesterday's attack in Nablus by the Israeli military, in which civilians
      and children also died, endangers the highly fragile ceasefire in the Middle
      East and threatens to bring about a new escalation,� a foreign ministry
      spokeswoman said.

      �The federal government urgently calls on all parties to live up to their
      responsibility for peace and the destiny of people in the region. Everything
      must be done to end the spiral of violence which above all affects the
      civilian population,� she said.

      �All parties must realise that only negotiations can solve the conflict
      between Israel and the Palestinians,� the statement continued.

      China, meanwhile, deplored Israel's abuse of force in a Palestinian-ruled
      area, the official Xinhua news agency said.

      China condemned Israel for �abusing military force to suppress the
      Palestinian common people�, a Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as
      saying.

      �We call on both sides in the conflict, especially on Israel, to take
      immediate steps and to stop all unilateral actions that are not beneficial
      to the Middle East peace process,� he said.

      Turkey harshly criticised its number one regional ally Israel for the rocket
      attack.

      �Like many other countries, Turkey condemns this attack, which does not help
      improve the already critical situation... and causes further fury among our
      Palestinian brothers and a further escalation of tension,� a foreign
      ministry statement said.

      �Turkey expects Israel to stop as soon as possible its practice of using
      excessive force and believes that a return to the negotiating table is the
      only way out of the spiral of violence,� the statement said.

      Iran condemned the attack as a �flagrant manifestation of state terrorism,�
      the state IRNA news agency reported.

      �The Israeli terrorist acts of carnage on the innocent Palestinians,
      demolition of their homes and expansion of Jewish settlements not only
      contravene United Nations resolutions but also amount to war crimes,� said
      foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi.

      According to Asefi, the �assassination of several Palestinian activists will
      never save the Zionist regime from its self-created legitimacy crisis but
      will rather further reveal the brutal character of this regime.�

      In Geneva, UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson condemned the attack,
      saying she was deeply dismayed by the action.

      �This daily violation of the right to life must stop,� she said in a
      statement, expressing �deep dismay� over Tuesday's Israeli helicopter attack
      which left six activists of the Islamic resistance group Hamas and two
      children dead.

      �The violence will not lead to a resolution of the conflict, but it does
      cause more suffering and makes the entire situation even more dangerous,�
      she said.

      Around 100,000 Palestin

      Also Cyprus condemned Israel's excessive use of force.

      Cypriot Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides was responding to a
      journalist's question after a meeting here with his Syrian counterpart,
      Farouq Al Sharaa.

      �This gives me the opportunity to condemn acts of excessive force, which are
      perpetrated in cold blood in which innocent children are victims, and I do
      not think that violence serves any purpose,� Cassoulides said.

      �I urge that everybody shows the necessary constraints and understands that
      there is no other way but peace.�

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