THE HANDS OF HATRED : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


THE Middle East is spiralling towards all-out war, with Israeli and Palestinian leaders warning there will be more bloodshed.

The grim spectre of further violence  which could include other Arab nations  came just hours after two Israeli soldiers were bashed and hanged in a Palestinian police station. After their bodies were thrown from a window, a mob baying with hatred stamped on the corpses and hammered them with the broken bars of a window grille.

Above them, a youth in a white shirt waved his bloodied hands in jubilation. Israel retaliated almost immediately, with helicopter gunships firing rockets at the police station in the Palestinian West Bank stronghold of Ramallah and other strategic installations.

"If this isn't war, I don't know what is," Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said yesterday.

"We certainly don't condone murder, but we didn't start this.

"It's very unfortunate that this situation has gone berserk over the last two weeks."

Israeli Premier Ehud Barak warned that the peace process was extremely shaky.

"An incited crowd conducted a shocking and despicable lynching of our soldiers," he said.

"All of us were horrified by the pictures. No country can accept such crimes and not condemn them. I cannot anticipate what will happen in the next few days, but we will be ready."

The prospect of a major conflict in the region has prompted frantic attempts  orchestrated by the United States  for emergency talks to end the bloodshed.

But that seems unlikely, as the mood on both sides appears uncompromising and bitter.

"This is a grave act that increases the probability of terror attacks," Mr Barak said.

Asked about the possibility of yet another peace summit, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said: "The most important thing before that is to stop the aggression against our people."

US President Bill Clinton called on both sides to impose a ceasefire.

"Now is the time to stop the bloodshed, to restore calm, to return to dialogue and ultimately the peace process," he said.

"The alternative to the peace process is now no longer merely hypothetical. It is unfolding today before our very eyes."

The dramatic escalation in the violence began late on Thursday night (SA time) when the two soldiers  Yosef Avrahami and Vadim Nourezitz  are understood to have become lost in Ramallah and were arrested by Palestinian police. Corporal Nourezitz, a Russian immigrant, was married only five days ago.

Word quickly spread around the town that they were members of an elite undercover unit, although the Israelis maintain they were reservists. Hundreds of Palestinians  many returning from the funeral of a youth killed by Israelis the previous day  flocked to the station. They forced their way inside, pushing aside the token resistance of the police.

Horrific televised scenes showed one of the soldiers dangling upside down, apparently attached to a rope, with the crowd below waving and cheering.

An Israeli Government official claimed the wife of one of the soldiers had called him on his mobile phone while the attack was under way and was told by a Palestinian: "We are now slaughtering your husband."

Mr Barak said the rocket attacks  which lasted several hours and wounded 17 Palestinians  were a "limited" but sharp warning to Mr Arafat to stop civilians attacking soldiers in the West Bank.

Mr Arafat was reported to have been at home in Gaza during the attacks and soon after visited the wounded, kissing one patient's bandaged hands. "Our people don't care and don't hesitate to continue their march to Jerusalem, their capital of the independent Palestinian state," Mr Arafat said.

Last night, gun battles continued throughout the West Bank.,4511,1307031%255E910,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (, October 13, 2000

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