Israel's Barak: Time of decision with Palestinians at hand--"there is the potential for major escalation"--Tanks in Jerusalem--Palestinan Airport Closed (3 stories) : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israel's Barak: Time of decision with Palestinians at hand--"there is the potential for major escalation"

(IsraelWire-10/7) (Communicated by the Prime Ministers Media Adviser) - At the start of the Cabinet meeting Saturday night, Prime Minister/Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the new situation and said that there is the potential for a major escalation. He emphasized that the moment of decision with the Palestinians is at hand and added that Israel must act determinedly and with coordination, knowing that our ability to act will influence our future. There will yet be in this struggle more difficult moments but we will be victorious because we are right and because we are stronger, the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Barak added that Israels policy in the past year has exposed the face of reality and, given the diplomatic timetable which was dictated in advance, there was no alternative to this. If we had not taken the policy we did and we found ourselves facing an impasse and deterioration today, we would not be able to look each other in the eyes, the Prime Minister said.

Prime Minister Barak updated the ministers on the events that have taken place since their previous meeting  Josephs Tomb, the Temple Mount and the kidnapping of the three soldiers.

The Cabinet, sitting as the Ministerial Committee on Security Affairs, is now being briefed by senior security establishment officials. Barak orders PA airport shutdown

(IsraelWire-10/8-01:05-IST) Prime Minister/Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered the closing down of the PLO Authority (PA) international airport in Dahaniya after it was learned that the shots fired a few minutes before midnight which injured nine persons near the Rafiah border came from within the airport.

As a result of the terrorist attack against a bus transferring security employees at the end of their shift in Gaza, three persons were seriously injured and six are reported in light-to-moderate condition. The injured were transported to the trauma unit of Beershebas Soroka Hospital.

It appears the bus was transporting persons employed at the crossing, civilian and not military personnel, who work side by side with PA residents at the PA airport.

Tanks deployed in Jerusalem

(IsraelWire-10/7-23:25-IST) We have confirmation that two tanks have been deployed on Anafa Street in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Since the arrival of the tanks, PA forces from the autonomous municipality of Bet Jala have fired them upon. Anafa Street has come under attack by gunfire at least three times over the past days.

According to Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert, security forces know the exact location of the origin of the gunfire and they must take action to bring and immediate end to the attacks on the capital.

IsraelWire will provide additional details as they are made available.

-- Carl Jenkins (, October 07, 2000


Big question is whether Isreal's armed forces have the same devastating punch, under this current left-wing government, that they once had.

-- Wellesley (, October 07, 2000.

(same source 2:37 IST)

"Helicopter gunships firing at enemy forces in Hebron

(IsraelWire-10/8-01:44-IST) A short time ago, the IDF has deployed helicopters in the skies over Hebron. According to the Kol MHashetach News Agency, IDF troops are firing at PA military forces from the helicopter. There were no immediate reports of casualties."

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 07, 2000.

Nando Times

New violence reported following Barak ultimatum

by JO STRICH, Agence France-Presse

JERUSALEM, Oct 8 (October 7, 2000 9:53 p.m. EDT - Violence exploded again in the Palestinian territories and Israel late Saturday after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak gave the Palestinians 48 hours to restore calm or see the peace process end.

The death toll in the unrest since September 28 rose to 90 when a Palestinian was shot dead by Jewish settlers near Nablus and an Israeli civilian was killed by a thrown rock as he drove through a village near Haifa.

In the Gaza Strip a busload of Israelis came under fire, and in Israel Jewish and Arab civilians clashed in Jerusalem and in a shopping mall in the Mediterranean coastal town of Caesarea.

Palestinian security forces mobilized while Israel sent a score of tanks to Netzarim in the Gaza Strip, site of an isolated Jewish settlement and scene of some of the worst clashes of the last ten days.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the closure of the Palestinians' airport in the Gaza Strip following the attack on an Israeli bus in the area which left eight passengers injured, Israeli radio reported.

Shots were fired from the airport, where Israel is in charge of security, at the bus, which was transporting Israeli airport employees.

Only Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's plane would be allowed to use the facility, the radio said.

Troop reinforcements were also rushed to Israel's northern border with Lebanon, where Hezbollah attacks and the seizure of three Israeli soldiers by the fundamentalist Lebanese guerillas Saturday opened up the specter of a two-front war for the Jewish state.

Earlier Barak warned Damascus, the main power broker in Lebanon, that it shared responsibility with Beirut and Hezbollah, which is supported by Syria and Iran, for the safety of the soldiers.

Syria's official news agency SANA reported that Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara had discussed the situation with Lebanese Prime Minister Salim Hoss and Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi.

They unanimously blamed Israel for the escalation of the violence after Israeli troops fired on Palestinian refugees demonstrating in support of their compatriots on Lebanon's border with Israel, killing two.

Israeli radio said an emergency cabinet meeting held late Saturday would continue Sunday, with the prospect of the formation of a national unity government.

Barak, who lacks a majority in parliament, could even join forces with opposition Likud leader Ariel Sharon, whose September 28 visit to east Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound touched off the present wave of violence.

The mosque, Islam's third holiest site, was built over the remains of the Jewish temple, the most sacred site in Judaism, and future sovereignty over the area is the main obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

On the diplomatic front, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to all parties in the Middle East conflict to show restraint, curb their forces and respect religious sites.

In a statement, Annan said he was "acutely conscious of the dangers of further deterioration" and that he had "spent the day in intensive contacts with leaders in the region."

He said "the most urgent task is to break the current cycle of violence and to stop the senseless killings which have brought tragedy to so many families."

He appealed "to the parties to show utmost restraint and rein in their forces and supporters, so as to give the ongoing efforts to restore peace the best chance of success."

The statement was issued ahead of a resolution by the U.N. Security Council which condemned the "excessive use of force" against Palestinians but failed to mention Israel by name.

The United States, which has also been calling for calm, had hinted that it would veto the resolution unless it was further watered down, but finally abstained.

Annan joined the council deliberations for about an hour, an unusual step underlining the extreme gravity of the crisis.

In his statement, he noted that "the violence in the occupied territories between Palestinians and Israelis has spread to the border between Israel and Lebanon".

In his statement, Annan said he had been "working with other statesmen with influence with the parties to try to calm the situation."

He also urged "each side to maintain the inviolability of religious sites of importance to other faiths, since all must understand that true faith demands respect for the beliefs of others."

The statement followed the destruction by Palestinians of Joseph's Tomb, a major Jewish shrine near Nablus in the West Bank after the Israeli army withdrew from the site in a bid to ease tension.

In an apparent reaction, Jews set light to an abandoned mosque in Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 07, 2000.

We could power our entire economy with the hot air that emanates from the UN. All we have to do is find a way to harness this energy.

-- David Williams (, October 08, 2000.

Oct 8, 2000 - 06:16 AM

Israel Warns That Palestinian Commanders Could Be Targeted By Ron Kampeas Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM (AP) - A top Israeli security official warned Sunday that an escalation in fighting could lead Israel to target Palestinian commanders, and rioters on both sides increasingly singled out civilians for attack. Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan, Prime Minister Ehud Barak's National Security Adviser, said the prime minister hoped Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat would meet a Monday night deadline to call an end to hostilities; if he didn't, Dayan warned, the army would change its footing.

"It will take the characteristics of initiated action and not just reactive action," he told Israel radio. "We could ... as far as I am concerned, even attack the headquarters of those responsible for the situation."

Barak said he no longer believed Arafat was ready for a peace agreement. Arafat "has apparently chosen violence and he will bear the responsibility for the consequences of that choice," Barak told a news conference on Saturday night.

The Palestinians brushed aside Barak's ultimatum. The Israeli prime minister is employing "blackmail that can only lead the region to wars we don't want," said Arafat adviser Nabil Aburdeneh.

Barak's Cabinet will hold a special session on Monday night, after the end of Yom Kippur - the holiest day of the Jewish year.

The ministers will assess the ultimatum to Arafat, discuss the situation in the West Bank and Gaza and also Saturday's abduction of three Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, Israel ferried hundreds of troops, including special forces, to the frontier. The roads along Israel's northern border were empty - not usually the case just before Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, when Israelis normally rush to complete errands before the 25-hour fast begins.

President Clinton, trying to prevent his Mideast policy from disintegrating, repeatedly spoke by phone to Arafat and Barak.

The fighting began Sept. 28 when Ariel Sharon, the leader of the hard- line Likud opposition party, visited a Jerusalem shrine holy to Muslims and Jews. Eighty-two people have been killed in 11 days since then, most Palestinians.

With anger and apprehension rising, bystanders have increasingly come under attack. Israeli Arabs stoned cars late Saturday night on the coastal highway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Police said one Jewish man, 55, died after a stone hit him in the chest.

A Palestinian was shot and killed late Saturday night by an Israeli settler near the Palestinian town of Bidya, not far from the West Bank settlement of Ariel, where Palestinians and settlers had exchanged fire, the military said. It was not clear if the victim was involved in the gun battle.

Palestinians said they planned a march on the settlement on Sunday morning to protest the man's death. Earlier, settlers had blocked major roads in the West Bank, burning debris and stoning Arab motorists.

In the Israeli town of Tiberias, home to one of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers, hundreds of residents chanted "Death to the Arabs" and burned a mosque that local Arabs had hoped to renovate and reopen for use. Shots were fired at Palestinian homes in an Arab area of Jerusalem, and Arabs living in the Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv were also targeted for stoning.

Gunmen fired on an Israeli bus in Gaza, injuring seven passengers, two seriously.

There were signs that Israel was raising the stakes in its bid to stop the violence.

Before dawn Sunday, the Israeli military blew up two apartment buildings overlooking the Netzarim junction in Gaza that has been the focus of riots and gun battles.

Also, the military destroyed another nearby building known as the factory, and cleared an area of several dozen yards (meters) around the fortified position to prevent attacks, an army statement said.

In the West Bank, the Israelis sent attack helicopters into Hebron for the first time, blasting hilltop positions used by Palestinians to fire on the Jewish settler enclave below.

The military warned that the Palestinians "must understand that any firing from a position on (Jewish) settlements or Israeli military forces turns (the position) into a target for attack or destruction."

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, an Israeli army commander advised Palestinians in houses near the Jewish settlement of Psagot to leave their homes.

For several days, Palestinians have been firing at the settlement from the houses, and Col. Gal Hirsch, who commands Israeli forces in the region, said the army would not show restraint should the gunfire start again.

"We will use all we have in the army arsenal," he said, surveying the highrise apartment buildings across the valley.

Referring to the simultaneous violence along the Lebanese border and in the Palestinian areas, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Israel was ready to fight on two fronts. "We have enough strength for that. We shall have to be less restrained than we were in the past," Sneh said.

Barak's ultimatum to Arafat came after Palestinians trashed Joseph's Tomb, a site in the West Bank town of Nablus, that some Jews consider holy.

Barak had ordered Israeli troops withdrawn from the site, putting it in control of Palestinian security forces. Within hours, a mob overwhelmed the site, burning parts and tearing up Jewish holy books left by seminary students. The scenes, broadcast on television, were considered a humiliation by many Israelis.

Ghassan Shakaa, the mayor of Nablus, supervised Palestinians who were rebuilding the tomb site on Sunday. He said it would be rebuilt as it was "before 1967," when Israeli forces captured the city - a suggestion that any sign of Jewish significance would be removed.

The tradition linking the site to the biblical patriarch is recent. Archaeologists say the site is just a few hundreds years old, and is the final resting place of a Muslim sheik.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 08, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ