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Old 10-05-2003, 12:12 PM   #1
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Good Weather for Airstrikes

Israel Strikes Terrorist Base in Syria

By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM - Israeli warplanes bombed what the military called an Islamic Jihad training base in Syria on Sunday in retaliation for a suicide bombing at a Haifa restaurant. It was the first Israeli attack deep inside Syrian territory in more than two decades.

The attack one day after an Islamic Jihad bomber killed 19 people threatened to widen three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence into neighboring countries and marked a dramatic new strategy in Israel's efforts to stop terror attacks.

Israel, which accuses Syria of harboring and funding Islamic Jihad, said it would strike at terrorists anywhere in the region. A statement from the military also accused Iran of funding and directing Islamic Jihad, saying Israel "will act with determination against all who harm its citizens."

"Any country who harbors terrorism, who trains (terrorists), supports and encourages them will be responsible to answer for their actions," government spokesman Avi Pazner said.

Syria's Foreign Ministry issued a terse statement saying it plans to lodge an "urgent complaint" against Israel with the United Nations. A Jihad spokesman denied the organization has any bases in Syria.

A senior commander from another radical Palestinian group the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said the camp was one of their deserted bases, not Jihad's. The attack injured a civilian guard, the commander said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

There was no immediate U.S. comment on the strike. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke to Israel's foreign minister after Saturday's suicide bombing amid worries at the time that Israel's response would target Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Sunday's strike came a day before the 30th anniversary of the joint Syrian-Egyptian attack known in Israel as the Yom Kippur War named after the holiest day in the Jewish calendar which begins at sundown Sunday. It was believed to be the first Israeli operation on Syrian soil since that war, though in 1985 Israeli warplanes flying over Lebanon pursued Syrian fighters into Syrian airspace and shot them down.

In Sunday's strike, the Israeli air force hit several targets at the Ein Saheb camp about 14 miles northwest of Damascus, according to Israeli security officials. The base was used by several terrorist organizations, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the army said in a statement.

Undated footage of the camp released by the Israeli military and taken from Iranian television shows a military officer conducting a tour. In one room were displayed hundreds of weapons, including grenades with Hebrew markings and other weapons apparently captured from Israel. Another scene showed a series of underground tunnels packed with arms and ammunition.

Israel had not yet determined if any people were killed, said Sharon adviser Raanan Gissin. "This was a measured response," he said. "We did not attack Syrian targets, but very specific camps used to train the terrorists."

Speaking on the Al-Jazeera television network, Abu Emad El-Refaei, an Islamic Jihad spokesman in Beirut, denied there were any Islamic Jihad bases in Syria. "All our bases are inside the Palestinian occupied territories," he said. He did not deny militants received training in Syria.

The strike was a dramatic escalation in Israel's response to the suicide bombings that have plagued it during the past three years of violence with the Palestinians. Until now, Israel has focused its retaliation on the Gaza Strip and West Bank, either with large-scale incursions or pinpoint strikes against militant leaders.

Now Israel insisted it was going after the militants' suppport abroad, but the strike threatened to draw Syria into the conflict.

Over the past 30 years, most military action between Israel and Syria has taken place in Lebanon, which is dominated by Damascus and where thousands of Syrian troops are deployed. On April 16, 2001, Israeli warplanes blasted a Syrian radar station in Lebanon, killing three Syrian soldiers. That strike came in retaliation for an attack by Hezbollah, the Syrian-backed Shiite guerrilla group, in which an Israeli soldier was killed.

Since the invasion of Iraq, the United States has hiked up pressure on Syria, accusing it of harboring terrorists. After demands by Washington, Syria closed the offices of Islamic Jihad, the larger Islamic militant group Hamas, and other radical Palestinian groups. However, most of the groups' officials continue to work from their homes in Damascus or from Lebanon.

The United States had been pushing Syria to act further and expel Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders, but Damascus has refused.

"Syria has been warned more than once by the United States that it should close all the facilities of the Islamic Jihad," Pazner said. "Apparently it has not done so."

Jihad claimed responsibility for Saturday's suicide bombing in the Mediterranean seaside restaurant Maxim, popular with both Jews and Arabs in the northern Israeli city of Haifa. A Palestinian woman wrapped in explosives blew herself up in the crowded restaurant, killing 19 people, including four children, and wounding 55 people.

It was one of the deadliest suicide bombings in three years of violence.

In addition to the attack inside Syria, Israel also conducted operations in Gaza and the West Bank. Israeli troops sealed off parts of Gaza, cutting the 20-mile long coastal strip into four sections, to prevent the movement of militants and weapons, army officials said.

Israeli helicopters launched missile strikes on two sites in Gaza a small empty house in Gaza City and the house of an Islamic Jihad leader in the Boureij refugee camp. There were no injuries in either attack, and residents said the militant leader escaped.

In the West Bank, army forces in Jenin destroyed the house of the family of Hanadi Jaradat, a 27-year-old woman identified as the Haifa suicide bomber. The soldiers also destroyed the house of the head of Islamic Jihad in Jenin.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called his advisers for an emergency meeting Saturday evening, and Vice Premier Ehud Olmert said Israel faced tough decisions and, if necessary, would carry them out regardless of international opinion.

"The world will have to accept our decisions," Olmert said.

Saturday's bombing increased fears Israel might act on threats to remove Arafat. Palestinian officials appealed to international mediators to ensure Arafat's safety.

Arafat condemned the suicide bombing and said it endangered Palestinian interests.

The United States opposes expelling Arafat, and Israel's security chiefs are divided on the issue. Hours after the blast, two Israeli planes briefly circled Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah, and Israeli army jeeps drove past.

When Powell spoke to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on Saturday, he was told Israel would consult with the United States before acting against Arafat.

Saturday's bombing brought to 103 the number of suicide bombings in the past three years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting. At least 432 people have been killed in these attacks.

***********************

Thoughts?

Melon
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Old 10-05-2003, 12:46 PM   #2
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I find myself at a loss of words when debating matters of the middle east. It is a place so full of history and obscure social relations that I, or any westerner, can't ever hope to fully appreciate what is happening.

I REALLY recommend people to read Exodus by Leon Uris. Though a somewhat biased book, you begin to understand the plight of the jewish peoples. since they have existed so has anti-semitism. They live on a tiny piece of land in a sea of enemies.

It seems the trend these days-if you are very liberal and anti-bush..or anti-america - is to condmen Israel a lot.
I, however, cannot bring myself to do this.
I do not feal justified in passing any judgment over there.

All I hope, is that there will be a day when Jews no longer have to worry about getting blown up on the bus and arabs no longer have to worry about Planes and tanks...but I doubt I will see this in my lifetime
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Old 10-05-2003, 04:08 PM   #3
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Sometimes i do not think,...
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Old 10-05-2003, 04:49 PM   #4
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Israel has the right to defend itself. Why on Earth does Syria allow Humas or any other terrorist organization to operate from its territory? These groups are attacking Israel, and any aid an support that Syria gives these groups makes Syria an agressor against Israel. If Syria persists in its behavior in this regard, it should not be surprised when they start to suffer the consequences of their stupid and misguided actions. Syria's Primeminister would be smart if he cleaned house now and pulled their troops out of Lebanon. With a standard of living ranked #110 in the world, worst than those that live in the Occupied Palestinian territories at #98, Syria does not have time to be risking war with Israel.
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Old 10-05-2003, 05:03 PM   #5
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I don't think the Syrian government denied that the places attacked were training grounds for terrorists...and I don't think there was a big loss of life; if this is the case...it is probably a legitiment action.

However, not the most ideal one since it will only escalate hatred between Israel and the Arab countries.

I do, however, not agree with them bombing houses on the gaza strip as they did yesterday simply cos they say these houses harbour terrorists. This is risky and dangerous for civilians living in the area
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Old 10-05-2003, 05:05 PM   #6
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And as in the past Israel dosn't proof that they hit terrorists - they say they hit terrorists - syria says they hit civilists.

I don't want to imagine how other countries self defend in the future without evidence. Syria is a souvereign country and because of that Israel violated international laws. I hope the UN can stop this violent government in israel. It was verry counterproductive for the peace process to attack another country. It's bad enough that they kill people instead sending them into a court room.

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Old 10-05-2003, 06:17 PM   #7
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Israel has a responsibility to its citizens to defend them. The Citizens of Israel elected and support the current government and I'm sure most Israely citizens supported the attack on the terrorist camp in Syria. Arab governments have a choice, they can be a part of the problem, or they can be a part of the solution. Syria has been apart of the problem for a long time and with a standard of living of #110, its clear their foriegn policies are hurting their own people. About time the Syrian Government got out of the habbit of supporting Terrorist and developed a peaceful policy towards Israel so they can concentrate on bringing the standard of living up in their own country.

"And as in the past Israel dosn't proof that they hit terrorists - they say they hit terrorists - syria says they hit civilists."

Israel has the right to defend itself against countries that support and harbor terrorist that target its civilians. It is a fact that Syria does support these groups that attack Israel. That gives Israel the right to strike back at Syria.

I don't want to imagine a world where pacifist influenced idea's allow terrorist and rogue regimes to slaughter and kill with near impunity. We know that those policies contributed to the slaughter of 6 million Jews. People have to defend themselves and know one know these facts better than the people of Israel.

"Syria is a souvereign country and because of that Israel violated international laws."

It is not a violation for Israel to defend itself. It is a Violation for Syria to support terrorist groups conducting the slaughter of Israely childern. I hope the UN supports the current actions of the Israely government and gets Syria to close up its support for terrorism.

"It was verry counterproductive for the peace process to attack another country. It's bad enough that they kill people instead sending them into a court room."

Israel sends plenty of people to the court room and tolerates far more shit than I think most other countries would if this were being done to them. Its counterproductive to allow countries in the region to support terrorist actions against Israel and then to condemn Israel for defending itself against such actions.
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Old 10-05-2003, 06:51 PM   #8
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I'm confused and frustrated over this situation. I support Israel and its right to defend itself. I also support peace for all nations of the Middle East and oppose terrorism in any form. I do not want Arabic/Islamic states and people to get attacked. But they need to stop supporting terrorism. The hell of the problem is that the governments may be supporting terrorist outfits but I do not think the ordinary people of these countries do. Unfortunately the ordinary people have to pay the price for the folly of their governments. Maybe the real hope is that the governments get more democratic and start things like constructive consultations with their citizens which is in line with Arabic and Islamic tradition as well. Jordan does this to good effect. Other countries, like Iran, have very strong pro-democracy movements which should be supported.
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Old 10-05-2003, 07:10 PM   #9
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Just another day, same as the one before it in the Middle East.

I don't take sides except to take the side of the innocent civilians blown up in restaurants or buses and their families, and the little kids shot to death and maimed as collateral damage or retaliation. These are the only victims. Arafat, Sharon, all the rest are so repugnant to me that no words exist.

Israel is lucky in this regard - the Arab states are corrupt and lack any sense of unity whatsoever.

Suicide bombing = wrong. Attacking Syria = wrong. I have very little sympathy or patience for the governments of this region anymore.
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Old 10-05-2003, 10:11 PM   #10
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The use of military force, is never wrong, if it is required to defend oneself.
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Old 10-05-2003, 10:16 PM   #11
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technically, pre-emptive strikes aren't self-defense
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Old 10-05-2003, 11:02 PM   #12
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"technically, pre-emptive strikes aren't self-defense"

Pre-emption is to act before another commits such an act. In 1967, Israel pre-emptive actions prevented Israel from being overrun and prevented the greatest massacre of Jews since World War II.

But Israel's strike today was not a pre-emptive strike, but a strike in response to terrorism.
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Old 10-05-2003, 11:04 PM   #13
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yes, but all I'm saying is that rarely is pre-emption carried out with real hard proof that the ones you are attacking were about to attack you

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Old 10-05-2003, 11:18 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by STING2
The use of military force, is never wrong, if it is required to defend oneself.
That's what the Serbs said too while they bombed the civillian population of Sarajevo for 3 years.
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Old 10-06-2003, 12:35 AM   #15
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anitram,

"That's what the Serbs said too while they bombed the civillian population of Sarajevo for 3 years."

Yep, but it was obvious that targeting unarmed civilians had nothing to do with self defense.
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