Israeli army mobilises reserves : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

10/10/2000 15:45 - (SA) Israeli army mobilises reserves Jerusalem - Israel's army chief Shaul Mofaz warned on Tuesday that the release from Palestinian jails of a batch of prisoners from the militant Hamas movement increased the risks of terrorism.

"The Palestinian Authority is freeing people we consider serious cases, increasing the risk of terrorist attacks," Mofaz told a closed session of parliament's foreign affairs and defence committee, the radio reported.

Over the past few days, the Palestinian Authority has freed 21 members of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which has warned of terror attacks as Israeli-Palestinian street battles raged across the territories.

Hamas is violently opposed to the peace process and has carried out numerous deadly anti-Israeli attacks, often at crucial moments in peacemaking.

Mofaz also said that the army was mobilising its reserve forces but on a minor scale "in order not to panic the population and to ensure the move is not interpreted by the other side as preparations for war."

Israel says it is prepared to "act forcefully" to prevent Israeli-Palestinian violence after 13 days of deadly clashes that have claimed the lives of about 100 people.

However, Prime Minister Ehud Barak's cabinet decided early on Tuesday to give peace another chance by extending a deadline for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to quell the unrest.

Annan welcomes Barak's decision

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Tuesday welcomed Israel's decision to give peace with the Palestinians one more chance and said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was anxious for a return to calm.

"I am very pleased that the government decided yesterday not to stick to its 48-hour deadline. I think it helps," Annan told reporters after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

Annan is on a shuttle diplomatic mission to defuse tensions in the Middle East as violence flared for the 13th day in the Palestinian territories and as Lebanese guerrillas continue to hold three Israeli soldiers captive.

His talks with Barak followed the Israeli prime minister's decision overnight to give Arafat more time to quell almost two weeks of bloodshed that has left around 100 people dead, most of them Palestinians.

Since arriving in the region on Monday, Annan has met twice with Arafat, who Israel accuses of doing too little to halt the worst violence in the territories in years.

"I got the impression that Arafat is concerned about the level of violence," said Annan. "He is anxious to see the situation calm down ... I believe this is possible."

Meanwhile, former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres said earlier that despite the spiral of violence in the Middle East, "war is not inevitable."

"We must reach a ceasefire and set a time-frame of one month to negotiate and reach an agreement," he told France-Soir daily.

"Israel is ready for a ceasefire, with no counter-demands, and (Palestinian leader) Yasser Arafat must give an immediate order for an unconditional ceasefire.

"We must be clear. Agreements which have been signed must be honoured. As for the negotiations to come, they will concentrate on the issues that have been left undecided," Peres said.

"We no longer have the Cold War in the background. No-one will supply arms or give money for a new war." - Sapa-AFP,1113,2-10-35_924113,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, October 10, 2000

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