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The Mid East is indeed getting to be a dangerous place
SYRIA LAUNCHES SCUD MISSILE
TEL AVIV [MENL] -- Syria has launched a test of its indigenous Scud class missile.
The test was said to have been conducted in North Syria on Sunday. The missile achieved a range of 300 kilometers.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 02, 2001
Tuesday July 3, 12:01 AM
Israel prepared to fight war on two fronts as tension escalates JERUSALEM, July 2 (AFP) - Israel is facing a war on two fronts, following the weekend flare-up on the Lebanese border and the refusal of the Palestinian uprising to die down in line with US-brokered ceasefires.
A US-brokered ceasefire in effect since June 13 is now more honoured in the breach than in the observance, with four more deaths added to the toll which now stands at well over 600 since late September.
An Israeli helicopter gunship killed three Palestinian militants allegedly preparing an attack on Israelis, blasting their car with eight missiles, two small car bombs claimed by a hardline Palestinian group rocked a suburb of Tel Aviv, and an Israeli was shot dead in the West Bank Monday.
The situation was just as tense in the north, following Israel's attack Sunday on a Syrian radar station in eastern Lebanon, in response to Friday's bombardment by guerrillas of the Syrian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah of Israeli troops in the disputed Shebaa Farms border area.
The Israeli raid was followed within the hour by a Hezbollah counter- strike with mortars and rockets which damaged an Israeli radar facility.
"Israel is not prepared to let these attacks go without reacting," Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner told AFP.
Israel says it pulled out of the whole of southern Lebanon in May last year in line with UN resolutions, refusing to recognise Lebanon's claim, backed by Hezbollah, to the Shebaa Farms which the Jewish state captured from Syria in [sic]
As it chooses to blame Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for all the violence in the Palestinian territories, so Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government says Syria is to blame for Hezbollah's actions and must take the consequences.
"Nothing happens in Lebanon, and certainly not in southern Lebanon, without Syria's approval," Pazner said.
Israel is now braced for the next move from Damascus, while discounting a conventional military response, given Syria's inferiority in terms of armed forces.
One theory is that it will come via the Palestinians, among whom Hezbollah enjoys great prestige because of Israel's retreat from southern Lebanon and has been assisting radical movements, according to Israeli authorities.
Monday's car bombs, in a town nor far from Israel's international airport, were claimed by the Damascus-based Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
"It is more than likely that the Syrian response will come against Israel's 'soft underbelly:' terror attacks in the territories, inside (Israel) or against Israeli targets abroad," the daily Yediot Aharonot said Monday.
"That's definitely a possibility. They have attacked Israeli embassies and Jewish communities in the past," Efraim Inbar, director of the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University told AFP.
The Ma'ariv daily for its part said that "Syria and Hezbollah are liable to respond to the attack on Syrian targets in Lebanon by attempting to bring down an Israeli passenger plane or by harming an Israeli embassy abroad."
Pavzner agreed that Hezbollah's response could come against Israelis in the occupied territories.
"If we have to, we will reply on two fronts," he said.
-- Robert Riggs (email@example.com), July 02, 2001.
Syria accuses Israel of pushing region toward war By The Associated Press
A day after one of its military installations in Lebanon was destroyed by Israeli missiles, Syria today accused Israel of wanting war.
Israel said it was responding to attacks by Syrian-backed Hizbullah guerrillas when it sent two fighter jets to fire missiles on the Syrian radar position in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley yesterday. Two Syrian soldiers and a Lebanese soldier were wounded, according to Syrian and Lebanese reports, and a Syrian soldier at the site told reporters that the installation had been destroyed.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "shoulders alone the dire consequences for dragging the region to the brink of an explosion, of which nobody is ignorant of the outcome and repercussions regionally and internationally," Khalaf al-Jarrad, the editor of the Syrian newspaper Tishrin, wrote in a front-page editorial Monday. Tishrin is a government mouthpiece.
Al-Jarrad accused Sharon of trying to divert attention from Israeli- Palestinian clashes by "aggravating the situation in the region and attacking Lebanon and a Syrian radar station."
Al-Baath, newspaper of Syria's ruling Baath party, charged in an editorial that Israel "is pushing the region to war, believing that war might rid it of its suffocating crises."
It was the second attack by Israel on Syrian positions in Lebanon since Sharon came to office this year. Hizbullah responded Sunday, firing rockets and mortars at Israeli military positions in disputed territory along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israeli artillery fired back, wounding a farmer, Lebanese officials said.
While Hizbullah was quick to hit back, militarily weak Syria was unlikely to challenge Israel directly. But neither was Syria likely to try to rein in Hizbullah, as Israel has insisted it do.
The Tishrin editorial said Syria and Lebanon were committed to a negotiated settlement in the Mideast, but that "does not nullify their right to resistance and turning back aggression in all possible and legitimate means."
The Israeli Cabinet issued a statement in Jerusalem saying the radar station was attacked Sunday because Syria was responsible for Friday's Hizbullah guerrilla raid that wounded two Israeli soldiers in the disputed Shabaa Farms region.
Syria and Lebanon claim the land belongs to Lebanon. Hizbullah has pledged to continue fighting Israel until it vacates Shabaa Farms.
According to UN resolution 425, Israel has withdrawn from all Lebanese territory.
"This criminal activity by Hizbullah takes place under the authorization of Syria, whose army has a presence in Lebanon," the Israeli Cabinet statement said.
On April 16, Israeli warplanes destroyed another Syrian radar station in Lebanon, killing three Syrian soldiers.
That raid, which came after Hizbullah fire killed an Israeli soldier around Shabaa Farms, was the first Israeli attack on such a significant Syrian target in years. Syria threatened to retaliate but never did, and Hizbullah operations eased.
But Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that his Islamic militant guerrilla group would no longer sit back. Israel was "playing with fire" he said at a Hizbullah rally not far from the radar site Israel destroyed hours earlier.
Nasrallah's deputy, Sheik Naim Kassem, said later that Hizbullah would continue to attack Israeli troops, "as will become evident in the coming days."
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 02, 2001.
Syria denies firing Scud missile, accuses Israel of pushing Middle East toward war
By HELEN AJI The Associated Press 7/2/01 4:16 PM
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- Syria on Monday denied Israeli reports it had fired a Scud missile toward the Israeli border, while accusing Israel of wanting war after destroying a Syrian military installation in Lebanon over the weekend.
"We have no missiles," Defense Minister Mustafa Tlass told The Associated Press. "No missile has been fired from Syria, not even as a test."
According to an Israeli military spokesman, speaking on the condition of anonymity, Syria fired the Scud on Sunday from outside the northern city of Aleppo toward the Israeli border. Israeli radar tracked the missile from launch to its impact short of Israel's border, he said.
Israel maintains Syria has missiles that can reach all of its cities.
Other Israeli military sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said the missile might have been a warning to Israel, whose warplanes destroyed a Syrian radar post in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley on Sunday.
Two Syrian soldiers and a Lebanese soldier were wounded in the airstrike, according to Syrian and Lebanese reports.
The editor of Syria's government-sanctioned Tishrin newspaper, Khalaf al-Jarrad, wrote in an editorial Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "shoulders alone the dire consequences for dragging the region to the brink of an explosion."
In a three-day state visit to France last week, Syrian President Bashar Assad repeatedly said Sharon was leading the region to war.
Israel said it attacked the radar because it considered Syria responsible for Friday's Hezbollah guerrilla raid that wounded two Israeli soldiers in the Chebaa Farms part of the Israeli-Lebanese border.
It was the second attack by Israel on Syrian positions in Lebanon since Sharon has been in office. Hezbollah responded Sunday by firing rockets and mortars at Israeli military positions in disputed territory along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Israeli artillery fired back, wounding a farmer, Lebanese officials said.
On April 16, Israeli warplanes destroyed another Syrian radar station in Lebanon, killing three Syrian soldiers. That raid, which came after Hezbollah fire killed an Israeli soldier around Chebaa Farms, was the first Israeli attack on such a significant Syrian target in years. Syria threatened to retaliate but never did, and Hezbollah operations eased.
But Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said Sunday that his Islamic militant guerrilla group would no longer restrain itself. Israel was "playing with fire," he said at a Hezbollah rally not far from the radar site Israel destroyed hours earlier.
Nasrallah's deputy, Sheik Naim Kassem, said later that Hezbollah would continue to attack Israeli troops "as will become evident in the coming days."
Leaders from at least a half-dozen Middle Eastern nations condemned the most recent Israeli airstrike, saying it could lead to dangerous escalation in the region.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud asked for the United Nations to put a stop to Israeli airstrikes.
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said Sunday that the State Department was in contact with all sides and was "urging the parties to exercise maximum restraint."
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), July 02, 2001.