Israel hits back after killings : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK Israel hits back after killings

Israeli helicopters have fired rockets at a police station in the West Bank town of Ramallah where earlier two Israeli soldiers were killed by an angry mob of Palestinians. Reports say the rockets have hit an area surrounding the police station. Ambulances are on the scene but there are no details of injuries.

The West Bank headquarters of the Palestinian Authority are reported to have been hit.

An Israeli military spokesman, Major Yarden Vatikay, told the BBC that the kidnapped soldiers were reservists who were "lynched by Palestinians inside the police station".

The soldiers had earlier been captured by Palestinian police.

Mr Vatikay denied Palestinian allegations that they were undercover agents, saying they had ventured into the area "by mistake".

This doesn't facilitate, but it complicates the issues we are trying to resolve Kofi Annan A BBC correspondent in Ramallah, Jon Leyne, says the Palestinian police were unable to control the crowd.

Ramallah tension

The situation in Ramallah is now extremely tense, with crowds on the streets and fears of Israeli retaliation, our correspondent says.

The Israeli authorities confirmed that at least three army reservists were detained in the Palestinian-controlled area. They say some of the men were in plain clothes.

Eyewitnesses said the bodies of the two dead were taken out of the police station and burnt in the street.

The incident came after the United Nations said there had been a breakthrough in talks aimed at ending two weeks of bloodshed between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The current spiral of violence has left about 100 people dead - most of them Palestinians.

The Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, described the latest incident as "very serious".

Problems for peace

And UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the deaths will cause problems for the peace process.

"This doesn't facilitate, but it complicates the issues we are trying to resolve," Mr Annan said after talks with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud in Beirut.

Kofi Annan: Deaths complicate peace process Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, already criticised for the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers by Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, will be under heavy pressure to respond.

Israeli Government spokesman Avi Pazner told the BBC that there is now a "major threat of escalation" in the crisis and that the region is now "approaching the moment of truth".

Overnight Mr Annan brokered an agreement to convene a trilateral security committee, involving Israel, the Palestinians and the United States.

Mr Annan says the committee will be chaired by George Tenet, the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency.

In another sign of continuing hostility on both sides, an Israeli cabinet minister on Thursday accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of wanting to escalate the crisis.

"War - that's what he wants," Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Israel radio.

"There is no diplomatic process today ... I suggest we organise for a situation of terror, for situations of attacks."

Intense shuttle diplomacy has been marred by continuing clashes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Situation still delicate

Israeli sources described the convening of the security committee as a positive development, but warned that the situation was still delicate.

The BBC's Nick Childs in Jerusalem says if the meeting goes ahead, it would be one of the most significant contacts between the two sides since the clashes began.

US President Bill Clinton said either he or his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright might travel to the Middle East to try to stop the violence. But he added that such a trip was not imminent.

Mr Annan held more unscheduled talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday after arriving in the region a day earlier.

Mr Annan is now trying to mediate the release of the three Israeli soldiers abducted four days ago in Lebanon.

The UK Foreign Minister, Robin Cook, is discussing the crisis with Israel's neighbours.

Mr Cook told the BBC that he found "welcome recognition" in talks with Mr Arafat and Mr Barak that there was no alternative to the peace process.

The violence was sparked by the visit on 28 September of the controversial Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to a holy site in Jerusalem whose status has proved the most divisive issue in the stalled peace talks.

-- Martin Thompson (, October 12, 2000


World Tribune

Palestinian Authority Declares War

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 12, 2000.

Sigh. Try again.

World Tribune

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 12, 2000.

I give up. Try Jerusalem Post.

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 12, 2000.

Jer usalem Post

Thursday, October 19 2000 01:46 20 Tishri 5761

Report: Israel captures members of Palestinian lynch mob By Arieh O'Sullivan

JERUSALEM (October 19) - Security sources said yesterday that commandos had hunted down and captured at least six Palestinian suspects in connection with the barbaric lynch of two reservists last week in Ramallah, news agencies reported.

Palestinian police said that a number of Palestinians already have gone missing, and at least eight are believed to be held by Israel.

Without confirming or denying, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said that those who carried out the lynching of Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Vadim Novesche and Sgt.-Maj. (res.) Yosef Avrahami last Thursday should beware.

"I say in the most unequivocal way, justice will get to those who did this, just like it came to perpetrators of the massacre [of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics] in Munich," Sneh said in an interview with Channel 2.

"I don't want to go into detail about what has been done, and certainly not about what is to be done," he said. "That could only spoil things."

His comments appeared to indicate that the operation is ongoing.

A leader of the Palestinian Tanzim, Hussein a-Sheikh, said that if it turns out that Israeli special forces had entered Palestinian-controlled territory to seize the suspects, it would provoke an outburst of fury.

"I think our reaction will be very grave. This gives Palestinians a free hand," Sheik told Channel 1. "Now, you give us the right to go after those who killed Mohammed Aldura," the 12-year-old boy killed by IDF bullets during a September 30 firefight with Palestinian police.

A Palestinian security officer said that eight suspected participants in last Thursday's lynching were captured by a special undercover operation in Palestinian-controlled areas and brought to Israel to stand trial. According to unconfirmed reports, at least one of the men has been "eliminated" by Israeli security forces.

Scores of people participated in the lynch, which was broadcast in grizzly detail around the world. There are a few, however, that Israel especially would like to punish, such as the man who proudly showed the crowd his hands covered with the dead reservists' blood.

The Palestinian security officer also confirmed reports that many of those who took part in the lynch have gone underground. The Palestinians themselves claim to have arrested two of the leaders.

Army radio said that Palestinian police in Ramallah have increased patrols to prevent infiltration into the city.

The missing Palestinians were apprehended by an elite undercover unit acting together with General Security Service agents, Itim reported.

"If it turns out that Israel captured them in Area A, the PA will consider it a grave violation of the agreement," one Palestinian security officer said.

Another, however, said he did not believe the Israeli action would greatly upset the PA, "since most Palestinians were shocked by the lynching."

The fact that Israeli troops may have had to violate Palestinian "sovereignty" to get their hands on the men raises the question of whether PA security forces cooperated with Israel.

Government and security sources refused to comment or confirm the reports, beyond vowing that Israel would settle accounts with those responsible for the lynch. IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ron Kitri told Army Radio, "If I were in their shoes, I too would be looking for a place to sleep at night."

As word of the arrests rippled through the territories, it was seen in Israel as a success in restoring some of the IDF's deterrent power, which has suffered due to an accumulation of mishaps and defeats.

Boaz Ganor, director of the International Policy Institute for Counter Terrorism, said that the echo of the arrests would certainly help boost Israel's deterrence.

"As a pin-point step it is effective, but not enough. However, I am sure that if there is another lynch, you can be certain that no one is going to show their hands to the photographers," Ganor said.

Israel has never officially admitted to having a policy of eliminating its enemies, but it is widely believed to have been behind the assassination of a number of key figures in the past.

According to Israel's Secret War, by Ian Black and Benny Morris, the government authorized the Mossad to assassinate the leaders of the Palestinian Black September organization responsible for the murder of 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

More recent assassinations include Islamic Jihad leader Fathi Shkaki in Malta in 1995 and PLO leader Abu Jihad in Tunis in the late 1980s.

David Kimche, former director-general of the Foreign Ministry and an ex-Mossad official, said Israel's policy of relentless retribution has deep historic roots.

"It's to show people... that we do not lightly allow our people to be attacked," he told AP. "These are peculiar rules of the game in this country. If Israelis are attacked, there will be retribution. It's part of the culture."

Lamia Lahoud and news agencies contributed to this report.

-- Rachel Gibson (, October 18, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ