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Israel attacks Syria: UK Commentaries

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  • ummyakoub
    Israeli planes attack Syria: Civilian site targeted ... DAMASCUS, Oct 5: Syria said on Sunday an Israeli airstrike had targeted a civilian site near Damascus
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 6, 2003
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      Israeli planes attack Syria: 'Civilian site targeted'
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      DAMASCUS, Oct 5: Syria said on Sunday an Israeli airstrike had
      targeted a civilian site near Damascus in a "grave escalation" of
      tensions in the Middle East. Israel had said the raid was aimed at
      a training camp for "terror groups".....(Agencies)

      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top17.htm&date=20031006

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      UN Council goes into emergency session
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      UNITED NATIONS, Oct 5: The UN Security Council met in emergency
      session on Sunday at the request of Syria, which asked the 15-
      member body to condemn Israel for attacking an alleged Palestinian
      training camp near Damascus.....(Reuters)

      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top18.htm&date=20031006

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      Israel's attack is a lethal step towards war in Middle East

      By Robert Fisk in Beirut

      The Independent - 6 October 2003

      ISRAEL RECEIVED the Green Light. It came from what is called the
      Syria Accountability Act, moving through the United States Congress
      with the help of Israel's supporters, that will impose sanctions on
      Damascus for its supposed enthusiasm for "terrorism" and occupation
      of Lebanon.

      Speaker after speaker in the past week has been warning that Syria
      is the new - or old, or non-existent - threat previously represented
      by Iraq: that it has weapons of mass destruction, that it has
      biological warheads, that it received Iraq's non-existent weapons of
      mass destruction just before we began our illegal invasion of Iraq
      in March.

      The Israeli lie about "thousands" of Iranian Revolutionary Guards in
      the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon has been uncloaked yet again. In
      reality, there hasn't been an Iranian militant in Lebanon for 20
      years. But who cares? The dictatorial Syrian regime - and
      dictatorial it most decidedly is - has to be struck after a Jenin
      woman lawyer, who has probably never visited Damascus in her life,
      blows herself and 19 innocent Israelis up in Haifa. And why not? If
      America can strike Afghanistan for the international crimes against
      humanity of 11 September 2001, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were
      Saudis, and if America can invade Iraq, which had absolutely nothing
      to do with 11 September, why shouldn't Israel strike Syria?

      Yes, Syria does support Hamas and Islamic Jihad. But in Iraq is
      based the Mujahideen Khalq, which bombs Iran, and the Americans have
      not bombed them. In Jerusalem exists a government that openly
      threatens the life of Yasser Arafat but no one suggests action
      should be taken against the Israeli administration.

      In Jerusalem lives a prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who was
      adjudicated to be "personally responsible" by Israel's own Kahane
      commission of enquiry for the massacre of up to 1,700 Palestinian
      civilians at the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut in 1982.
      But he is not going on trial for war crimes.

      Of course, Syria is going to take the air strikes on the training
      base" of Islamic Jihad to the United Nations. Much good will it do
      Damascus. When the United States cannot bring itself to support a
      resolution condemning Israel's threat to murder Arafat, when it will
      not stop the Israelis building 600 more houses - for Jews and Jews
      only - on Palestinian land, air raids on Syria simply don't matter.

      Perhaps Lebanon will benefit. Perhaps Lebanon can now be spared
      Israel's retaliation for Palestinian violence - unless, of course,
      Israel decides to strike a Palestinian "training base" in Lebanon.

      No one asks what these "training bases" are. Do Palestinian suicide
      bombers really need to practice suicide bombing? Does turning a
      switch need that much training? Surely the death of a brother or a
      cousin by the Israeli army is all the practice that is needed.

      But no. Yesterday, we took another little lethal step along the road
      to Middle East war, establishing facts on the ground, proving that
      it's permissible to bomb the territory of Syria in the "war against
      terror", which President Bush has himself declared now includes
      Gaza.

      And the precedents are there if we need them. Back in 1983, when
      President Reagan thought he was fighting a "war on terror" in the
      Middle East, he ordered his air force to bomb the Syrian army in the
      Lebanese Bekaa Valley, losing a pilot and allowing the Syrians to
      capture his co-pilot, who was only returned after a prolonged and
      politically embarrassing negotiation by Jesse Jackson. In an era
      when America is ready to threaten the invasion of Syria and Iran -
      part of that infamous "axis of evil" - this may seem small beer. But
      Syria itself has seen what has happened to America's army in Iraq,
      and is emboldened by its humiliation to avenge the attacks of Israel
      or America, whatever the cost.

      If America cannot control Iraq, why should Syria fear Israel?

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      Islamabad condemns Israeli raid

      ISLAMABAD, Oct 5: The government on Sunday condemned Israeli attack
      on Syrian territory and said it was in violation of International
      law. Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said that the attack would
      further complicate the dangerous situation in the region and make the
      implementation of the quartet's roadmap more difficult.

      "Pakistan calls on the international community, especially the
      quartet, to take steps to restrain such actions and to bring the
      peace process in the Middle East back on track," he said.-APP


      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top8.htm&date=20031006

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      Israel's justification for attack on Syria

      TIM CORNWELL DEPUTY FOREIGN EDITOR - Scotsman October 6, 2003

      http://www.news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1105652003

      ISRAEL may have taken the war of words between the US and Damascus as
      a green light for its attack on Syrian soil, analysts said yesterday.

      Israeli officials described yesterday's air raid, barely ten miles
      outside the Syrian capital, as a warning shot meant to end Syrian
      support for terrorists, fired with "no intention of escalation".

      Washington, meanwhile, has repeatedly blamed Syria for
      allowing "Arabs" and "foreigners" to cross its border to attack
      American troops, hinting at the possible threat of sanctions.

      At the same time, it has joined Israel in demanding that Syria end
      its backing for Palestinian militants.

      The US occupation of Iraq has left Israel's old enemy surrounded by
      allies of the US. The cross-border pipeline supplying cheap Iraqi oil
      has been turned off, adding to the economic pressure on Syria's
      president, Bashar Assad.

      In the days of the Cold War, Washington would have been deeply
      cautious of any attack upon a long-time Soviet ally. But the chief
      legacy of those days has been to leave the Syrian military with
      obsolete and aging Soviet weaponry.

      "One of the first questions is, did the US give any sort of green
      light?" said David Lesch, a leading analyst of US-Syrian
      relations. "US attitudes towards Syria since the war may have created
      a sense in Israel that this is something they can get away with, in
      tune with US policy."

      The Israeli air strike was launched after a suicide bomber from
      Islamic Jihad killed 19 people in a restaurant in the northern port
      city of Haifa on Saturday.

      Israel's military said it had targeted a base near Damascus used by
      militant groups. With Islamic Jihad claiming the area was empty, and
      Syrian security keeping reporters at bay, there was little early
      indication of damage or loss of life, if any.

      By targeting Syria, the Israeli government of Ariel Sharon may, for
      now, rescind its threat to "remove" Yasser Arafat.

      That policy - embraced after the last suicide bombing on Israeli
      soil - brought warnings from around the world against directly
      targeting the Palestinians' elected president. While some members of
      Mr Sharon's cabinet called for the policy to be acted on, Mr Arafat
      seemed to have won a breathing space.

      "Syria is easier to get at and can't do anything back," said Mr
      Lesch, a professor of Middle East History at Texas' Trinity
      University. "There will be a lot of vitriolic verbiage but they
      cannot do anything. It portrays, from the Sharon administration to
      the Israeli public, that they are doing something in reaction to the
      suicide bomber."

      "The significance of the operation is more in terms of its symbolic
      message to the Syrians and the terror organisations," added Eran
      Lerman, a retired senior Israeli military intelligence officer. "It
      simply says that nobody is immune."

      The strike, at Ein Saheb, nine miles north-west of Damascus, took
      place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the 1973 Middle East
      war. "The Syrian military is under no illusion of what would happen
      if they try to [retaliate]," Mr Lerman said.

      The first attack on the Syrian heartland in three decades, however,
      brings risks of its own. If Syria chooses to ignore Israel's warning
      shot, it begs the question of what will follow.

      The Arab world reacted with predictable outrage yesterday. The
      Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, condemned an "aggression against a
      brotherly state". The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, speaking
      at a joint Cairo news conference with him, described the action
      as "unacceptable".

      Mr Schröder's tough comments may renew the divides left by Iraq.
      Washington has repeatedly lashed out, verbally at least, at Syria.
      During the Iraq war, Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary,
      charged that Syria had supplied Iraqi forces with night-vision
      goggles.

      In May, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, warned Mr Assad on a
      visit to Syria that he was in danger of falling "on the wrong side of
      history" unless he clamped down on Palestinian militants and closed
      the border to Arabs crossing into Iraq.

      Late last month, Paul Bremer, the American civil administrator in
      Iraq, said 123 of the 248 non-Iraqi fighters held by US forces in
      Iraq were Syrian.

      The hawkish US under-secretary of state, John Bolton, echoed that
      message, telling a Congress committee that Syria was still
      allowing "volunteers to pass into Iraq to attack and kill our service
      members".

      He accused Syria of developing "one of the most advanced" chemical
      weapons programmes in the Arab world, and seeking technologies "that
      could be applied to a nuclear weapons programme".

      Only last weekend, the US national security adviser, Condoleezza
      Rice, added her own voice, saying said the US is not "working as
      constructively with the Syrians as we need to. There is much more
      that Syria needs to do, and that message is being communicated to
      them".

      In the US yesterday, Israel's supporters backed the action, with the
      outspoken former Congress leader, Newt Gingrich, among the first to
      endorse it.

      Israel and Syria are still in an official state of war. Syria's top
      foreign policy priority is to end Israel's occupation and annexation
      of the Golan Heights.

      It is this goal that may have encouraged Syria to see its backing of
      Palestinian militants, from Hezbollah to Islamic Jihad and Hamas, as
      its only leverage against Israeli military might.

      Israeli analysts said yesterday that Israel had calculated that a
      strike on Syria would not lead to a wider confrontation. "It was a
      clear message to the terrorists and to Syria that these activities
      must stop," said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Mr Sharon.

      This summer, in response to US pressure, Syria ordered Palestinian
      groups to close their offices. Mr Assad's government, it was said,
      also urged them to accept a Palestinian ceasefire - which has since
      broken down.

      In August, Israeli planes flew low over Assad's holiday residence, in
      what was called a message to rein in Hezbollah.

      With Syria calling for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council
      yesterday, it appeared to have accepted that any military reaction to
      Israel was out of the question.

      "I think Syria will denounce this tremendously," said Mr Lesch. "Then
      I think this will fade away if no further action is taken - but it
      has added a new dose of tension."

      BOMB THAT KILLED ARAB AND JEW, CHILD AND ADULT

      IN ONE deadly instant, the suicide bombing of a Haifa restaurant
      destroyed families, crossed ethnic divides and horrified a country
      almost numb to the horrors of such attacks.

      The bomber struck at lunchtime on the weekend as families sat down to
      eat together at a restaurant overlooking the sea. Four children, an
      Israeli military legend and two families were among the 19 killed in
      the bombing.

      "Families wiped out," read the headline in the Israeli daily Maariv
      on Sunday. "Families murdered," the Yediot Ahronot daily wrote.

      Bruriya Zer-Aviv, 49, went out for a Saturday lunch with her son
      B'tzalel, 30, his wife, Keren, 29, and her two grandchildren, four-
      year-old Liran and one-year-old Noya. They all died.

      In Kibbutz Yagur, an agricultural village in northern Israel, shocked
      community members vowed to help the remnants of the Zer-Aviv family.

      "We can never undo this tragedy but we will do all we can to help
      what is left of the family," Yagur resident Hillel Leviatan told
      Israel Radio.

      Ze'ev Almog, 71, was the legendary former commander of the navy's
      officer school in Haifa. His wife, Ruti, 70, his son Moshe, 43, and
      his grandson Tomer, nine, all died with him at the family lunch. His
      daughter Galit, daughter-in-law Orli and three other grandchildren
      were all wounded in the blast.

      "To lose in one blow, so many family members, the closest family ...
      it is so strange to think of them in the past tense," Rotem Avrutski,
      Ze'ev Almog's nephew, told the radio. The navy officer's school was
      also mourning the death of Nir Regev, 25, the son of current school
      commander Eli Regev.

      Maxim restaurant was a rare oasis of Jewish-Arab coexistence. For
      four decades the business has been owned by two families - one Arab,
      one Jewish. They worked together and died together. Four of the dead
      were Arab Israeli workers.

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