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October 2000 - Return to Complete Index                  MiddleEast.Org       10/07/00
News, Information, & Analysis That Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know! 
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            "If the Arab world is heading for war
            there is nothing (we) can do."
                           Shimon Peres - today

MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 10?07 - 3:30pm
     Clinton canceled his Midwest fundraisers today to return to the White House and the Middle East crisis.  The Israeli Cabinet is meeting in emergency session this evening at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.   The Lebanese government has been warned Beirut will be bombed, and Syria too has been put on notice.  Meanwhile the Palestinians have finally thrown the Israelis completely out of Nablus, making the Israelis fear, and rightly so, that Hebron and Gaza are next...and then....  And just in the last few hours Barak has given Arafat a public ultimatum -- end the violence within 48-hours or else!
     The "or else" may well be a "national unity government", Ariel Sharon as Defense Minister, and a new wave of violent repression, the unleashing of Israel's military even more in the occupied territories and again Lebanon.  If this is what the Israelis are now considering, then it is likely sooner rather than later because in the midst of an election now just 4 weeks away American politicians can be counted on not only to rally to Israel's side but to box themselves in so that post-election they will have little choice but to keep playing by Israel's rules.
     With emotions so raw a growing orgy of violence may be ahead, maybe quite soon.  The Arab world remains too weak, scared, divided, and compromised, to actually take Israel on directly.  The Arab "client regimes" -- mostly comprised of persons only marginally competents with far too many thugs and cowards -- leaves that to the Palestinian "Children of the Stones".  But a great many political fires can break out in various locations if today's situation escalates still further; and some of them may not be easily extinguished.
    As for the Israelis, one Minister actually had the chutzpah to today roar at the Lebanese "return our kids" -- referring to the 3 soldiers captured by Hezbollah earlier today.   This while the Israelis are still wantonly killing Palestinian kids, with Israeli snipers shooting in cold blood.  Other Israeli officials have condemned as
"kidnapping" Hezbollah's actions...apparently obvious that they did in fact kidnap Hezbollah leaders years ago who are still in Israeli prisons, including Sheik Obeid.  Plus Mordechai Vanunu, one of their own, lured from London and kidnapped from Rome.  And still other Israelis have publicly insisted that Lebanon enforced U.N. Security Council Resolution 425, the very resolution they defied for 20 years, not to mention so many other Security Council resolutions they continue to defy to this day.

                     HEZBOLLAH WARNS ISRAEL

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 7 (UPI 11:18 ET) -- The Hezbollah movement warned Israel
Saturday of any "foolish action" against Lebanon to try to gain the freedom
of three of its soldiers who were captured earlier by the Muslim guerrillas
on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

 "Any aggression on Lebanon under any pretext will be a foolish action and
will be reciprocated by targeting (Israeli) soldiers and settlers," said a
Hezbollah statement released in Beirut. "And soldier-prisoners will remain
in our hands until achieving the goals. The enemy (Israel) has no other

 Hezbollah was responding to reported threats made by Israel against
Lebanon if its soldiers who were captured by Hezbollah earlier Saturday were
not freed.

 "It is time the Zionists learn that Lebanon is the grave of invaders and
the (Hezbollah) resistance is not terrorized by threats," the statement

 Hezbollah-run "Al Manar" television station said hundreds of the group's
followers were gathering in Beirut's eastern suburbs for a demonstration "of
joy" for the detention of the Israeli soldiers.

 The soldiers were seized during clashes between Hezbollah guerrillas and
Israeli troops across the border that followed the killing of two
Palestinian demonstrators by Israeli fire on the Lebanese-Israeli border.
About 20 other Palestinians were injured. The nearly 1,800 Palestinian
demonstrators, who came from various refugee camps in Beirut and south
Lebanon, were protesting the Israeli "massacres" against the Palestinians in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

 Rolf Knutsson, personal representative of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi
Annan, expressed "grave concern" for the cross-border exchange of fire and
appealed on all concerned parties to exert "maximum restraint, especially at
this time of unrest and tension in the occupied (Palestinian) territories."

 Knutsson, in a statement released in Beirut, said Lebanese Prime Minister
Selim Hoss assured him that the Beirut government "would take action with a
view to bringing the situation under control."

 The U.N. envoy said he told Hoss during a telephone contact that the
Lebanese authorities should not "lose time in asserying their full and
effective control of the liberated area of south Lebanon, particularly along
the Blue Line" that was set by the U.N. to confirm Israeli pullout "in order
to avoid further tragic events."

 Hoss said Saturday's violence "is extremely regretful and constitutes a
condemnation to Israel for firing at unarmed civilians, keeping Lebanese
detainees and still occupying Lebanese land in the Shabaa farms."

 "As for Jerusalem, everybody knows that it will remain a source of
instability in the whole region until rights are restored and the holy city
regains its Arab identity," he said in a statement. "We repeatedly said that
Jerusalem is not the cause of the Palestinian people only but is an Arab
cause which concern all Arabs, Muslims and Christians."

 Hoss said it was time for the international community "to realize these
realities and the big countries to pressure Israel to restraint it from
further aggressions and injustice."

 Earlier, a Hezbollah statement said its guerrillas attacked several
Israeli positions in the Shabaa farms, which was not evacuated by Israel
when it pulled out its troops from south Lebanon on May 24 ending 22 years
of occupation.

 "They captured many Zionist soldiers and succeeded in evacuating them from
the area of operations to a safe place," said the statement. It later
confirmed that three Israeli soldiers were seized.

 The Hezbollah statement said the group "offers this operation to all
Jerusalem martyrs," including the 12-year old Palestinian boy, Mohammed
Durra, who was killed in his father's embrace by Israeli soldiers in Gaza
last Saturday.

 The statement said it also came "to fulfill Hezbollah promises to liberate
all (Lebanese) detainees, every inch of occupied Lebanese territories and to
show solidarity with the Palestinian people." It pledged to continue the
"Jihad" (armed struggle) until the liberation of Jerusalem.

 Earlier, Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas exchanged bombardment
across the Lebanese-Israeli border in a first such and most dangerous
incident since the Israeli withdrawal.

 Security sources reported "fierce clashes" between the two parties in the
border area of the Shabaa farms.

 Israeli forces fired shells on the Lebanese side of the Shabaa farms and
the outskirts of the village of Kfar Shouba, prompting Hezbollah guerrillas
to fire back with mortars, Katyusha rockets and rocket-propelled grenades on
Israeli posts on the other side of the fence.

 The sources said Hezbollah-Israeli clashes continued "with all kind of
weapons" and Lebanese inhabitants of Shabaa sought refuge in basements and


                          By JOSHUA BRILLIANT

 TEL AVIV, Israel, Oct. 7 (UPI - 14:39ET) - Israel has launched an intensive
diplomatic effort to secure the release of three soldiers taken Saturday
afternoon while its helicopters carried sorties across the border and
airlifted troops to the front.

 The Israeli cabinet is scheduled to hold an emergency session at 9 p.m. at
the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv to decide on its next steps.

 Prime Minister Ehud Barak warned Lebanon "to immediately cease all hostile
activities on Israel's northern border, and impose its authority upon all
the organizations operating along the border."

 Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Israel considers Syria to bear
prime responsibility.

 "The Syrian regime is the dominant and responsible force in Lebanon. It is
the one who makes decision and we shall treat it accordingly," he said.

 The warning was issued after Hezbollah gunmen ambushed an Israeli patrol
and took three soldiers hostage. The Qatari television station Al-Jezirra
said Hezbollah forces killed other soldiers in the patrol, but the Israel
Defense Forces spokesman denied the report.

 Second Channel TV and Israel Radio said the gunmen fired mortars at
several IDF positions in the area and the soldiers drove to the border to
check it. Hezbollah gunmen, who had parked their car just across the border,
opened fire, crossed the border fence, took the soldiers, and sped away.

 Last May, Israel withdrew its troops from Lebanon to a line the United
Nations determined. Since then, the border has been quiet except for stoning
incidents. An Israeli general recently told UPI the air force has also
ceased intelligence sorties over Lebanon.

 Barak's warning was not explicit as it was issued before the IDF confirmed
the news of the seized soldiers.

 Reports from Lebanon said Israel threatened to bomb Beirut unless the
soldiers are returned within a given deadline but Sneh said, "We haven't set
an ultimatum."

 The Foreign Ministry said that acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami
talked to U.S. National Security advisor Samuel (Sandy) Berger, Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Richard Holbrooke. He asked Washington to relay its messages to Beirut and

 Cabinet Secretary Yaakov Herzog told UPI that Israel has been in touch
also with United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and the International
Red Cross demanding the soldiers' release.

 The acting Foreign Minister has instructed the Israeli representatives at
the United Nations to sharply protest the attack.

 The Foreign Ministry's spokesman said, "Lebanon is responsible for
maintaining quiet along the northern border, and the actions today represent
a blatant violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 425, and an act of

 The spokesman's statement called upon the Security Council to condemn the
attack and "oblige Lebanon to adhere to international law."

 The army statement that eventually reported the missing soldiers said,
"Three soldiers in operational activity along Israel's northern border fence
were kidnapped this afternoon by a Lebanese group, in all likelihood the

 The incident occurred in the Mount Dov area in the northern Golan Heights
near the Lebanese border, the statement said.

 "The IDF will make every effort to track the kidnapped soldiers and bring
them home safely," the statement added.

 The Air Force has sent attack helicopters into the area in an apparent bid
to track the Hezbollah men and the Israeli soldiers. CH-53 helicopters have
been airlifting troops to the Mount Dov area in preparation for a possible
cross-border operation.

 Hezbollah, in a statement issued in Beirut, warned Israel that, "Any
aggression on Lebanon under any pretext will be a foolish action and will be
reciprocated by targeting (Israeli) soldiers and settlers."

 The Israeli statement said the government "intends to take decisive action
in order to ensure the safety is Israel's northern towns and villages."

 Israel said it views "with the utmost severity any violation of the calm
that has existed on the northern border since the IDF's withdrawal from

 Former Prime Minister and Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres, who has often
been optimistic over the peace process said Saturday night: "If the Arab
world is heading for war there is nothing (we) can do."


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