Israel on brink of all-out war : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Israel on brink of all-out war By Alan Philps in Jerusalem

October 9, 2000

A POTENTIALLY damaging split in Palestinian ranks emerged last night as Israel teetered on the brink of war on two fronts. It came as Arab leaders debated their response to an Israeli ultimatum to end the protests that began 11 days in which 84 people have died.

In the latest violence, an Arab was killed when several hundred Israelis attacked an Arab settlement near Nazareth. Ehud Barak, Israel's Prime Minister, said Palestinians must end their protests by tonight, or he would declare the peace process dead and order harsh retaliation. If Yasser Arafat failed to comply he would be treated "not as a peace partner but as a rival".

Tension increased as Israel began 25 hours of fasting and prayer for the Day of Atonement, the Jews' holiest day. When the fast is over, the country could be facing war against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and against Lebanon, from where Hizbollah guerrillas kidnapped three Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on Saturday.

The deputy defence minister, Ephraim Sneh, warned the Palestinians that Israel had so far used "only one per cent" of its firepower. There were conflicting signals from the Palestinians. In the West Bank town of Ramallah, one of the main flashpoints, militants posted handbills calling for a "popular war" against the Israelis.

This was apparently an initiative by members of Mr Arafat's ruling Fatah movement but not co-ordinated with the leader. In the Gaza Strip the situation was the reverse. The Palestinian police commander, Gen Abdel-Razeq Majeidah, met Maj Gen Yom-Tov Samia, commander of Israel's southern region, to form a crisis management team with the Americans.

While the Palestinians insisted that they had not signed a ceasefire, armed men for the first time in many days avoided the Netzarim junction flashpoint. In public, Palestinian officials rejected Mr Barak's ultimatum. But initiatives were in hand for a new summit meeting. Kofi Anan, the UN Secretary General, left New York for Israel last night hoping to use personal diplomacy to resolve the crisis.

Mr Arafat is undecided on what course to take and is allowing contradictory policies to be followed. A Palestinian observer said: "He does not feel strong enough to call an end to the uprising. But he realises that his people are not ready for much more sacrifice."

-- Carl Jenkins (, October 09, 2000

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