Israel faces war on two fronts as fighting breaks out in Lebanon : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Sunday, October 8 12:06 AM SGT

Israel faces war on two fronts as fighting breaks out in Lebanon JERUSALEM, Oct 7 (AFP) -

Israel faced a war on two fronts Saturday after more than a week of clashes with the Palestinians when Lebanese Islamist Hezbollah guerrillas attacked Israeli troops on Lebanon's southern border, capturing three of them.

The incident, following the killing of two Palestinians demonstrating at the border against the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, brought warnings of Israeli retaliation against Lebanon and its controlling power, Syria.

Earlier in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army withdrew from the Joseph's Tomb religious site, one of the main flashpoints of violence over the past week.

Despite the pleas of the Palestinians' governor for Nablus, Mahmud al-Alul, dozens of Palestinians promptly took up iron bars, pickaxes and hammers and destroyed the shrine, which religious Jews believe is the burial site of the biblical patriarch Joseph.

The violence, which has killed some 90 people since September 29, spread for the first time into Lebanon, where Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians and wounded 13 others who threw stones onto the Israeli side of the border.

Hezbollah, which spearheaded the guerrilla campaign against Israel's 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon that ended in May, hit back with 50 salvoes of Katyusha rockets, mortars and grenades at Israeli positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms region, which Israel said injured three soldiers.

Israel responded with an air strike that injured four Lebanese civilians, according to Lebanese security sources.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh warned that the violence must stop or else Syria would be "the address of our response."

"We consider Syria, which controls Lebanon, as responsible for everything that happens there," Sneh told CNN television.

Syrian officials must "do their utmost to stop the aggression immediately in order to prevent an extension of this aggression and all the inevitable results that may come out of it," he said.

But a Lebanese government official, as quoted by the national news agency ANI, said Israel must free all Lebanese prisoners at once if it wants its hostages back, rather than "reacting with warnings."

The Islamic Resistance, Hezbollah's military wing, said in a statement that the hostages had been taken to a safe place and would be used "to liberate all our prisoners (in Israeli jails) and liberate every inch of our occupied territory and assist our Palestinian brothers in their Intifada (uprising)."

Hezbollah also threatened to respond "severely and comprehensively to ... any aggression against Lebanon under any pretext," saying it would target settlements in northern Israel.

The destruction of Joseph's Tomb by members of a crowd of 2,000 people who swarmed past Palestinian police protecting the site after the Israeli withdrawal, brought angry condemnation from the Israeli government.

They set fire to the furniture, books and other items left behind by the Israelis then attacked the building with crowbars and other instruments.

After several hours, only the outer walls of the small, round, five-room building remained standing.

That section of the building which housed the tomb was in flames, but there was no immediate indication of what started the fire.

Demonstrators hoisted an Islamic flag over the site, and Amin Maqbul, an official from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's faction Fatah, told the crowds: "Today was the first step to liberate al-Aqsa."

Control over al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, Islam's third holiest site, is the major obstacle to an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty and it was a visit to the place by Israeli ultra-nationalist Ariel Sharon on September 27 that set off the wave of violent protests.

Israel's commander for the West Bank, Benny Ganz, described the ransacking of Joseph's Tomb as "catastrophic" and said Israel was considering retaking the shrine.

He said Palestinian authorities had given promises to safeguard the holy site before Israel decided to withdraw early Saturday.

"Unfortunately someone did not deliver the goods," he said. "Now we are assessing the whole situation."

"If we cannot cooperate with them then we will have to choose our own methods," Ganz added. "We thought we had partners; it seems that we didn't."

The United States meanwhile urged an immediate ceasefire so Israel and the Palestinians could return to the bargaining table.

"Otherwise, if this continues, the violence will continue to spiral out of control with more destruction, more death. None of us want to see that take place," US Defense Secretary William Cohen said on a visit to Tunisia.

The White House said President Bill Clinton spoke to both Barak and Arafat on the telephone and cancelled a trip to the state of Ohio so he could address the mounting violence.

Elsewhere, demonstrators continued to protest against Israel in a number of Arab countries including Egypt, where 22 people were injured in clashes between students and police in Cairo, and in Damascus, scene of similar clashes Friday.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 07, 2000


Isreal cannot fight a war on two fronts any better than we can.

-- Uncle Fred (, October 07, 2000.

Bruce Beach has been warning that the Middle East would explode before the year is out, since January. He has now been proven correct. His next prediction is for a major biological-chemical- nuclear world war, which would solve any human overpopulation problem. But how to prepare for something like this now?? Reference URL: Act=view_archive&list_id=y2kfind Hopefully, a less severe scenario will result, but even this could include serious cyberterrorism, which could bring the infrastructure disruptions feared for "Y2K". Reference URL:

-- Robert Riggs (, October 07, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ