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>Israel Faxx
>JN April 17, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 65

Russia Concerned About Latest Israeli Attack in Lebanon

VOA News

Russian officials say they are extremely concerned by the Israeli airstrike in Lebanon. The raid will figure in meetings with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara, who arrived in Moscow Monday for two days of talks with the Russian leadership on bilateral relations and the Middle East. Shara called the Israeli attack a gross violation of international law.

Syria Promises Revenge Against Israel

By VOA News & Arutz 7 News

Syria said Israel will pay a heavy price for its airstrike on a Syrian radar station in Lebanon that killed three Syrian soldiers and wounded four others.

The warning came Monday from Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara during a visit to Moscow. Shara said Israel's attack is "killing the Mideast peace process and expanding the tension and instability in the region." He said Israel will pay dearly for its aggression at the appropriate time.

Israel's Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the Israeli air raid was a message to Syria that the rules of the game have changed. He said Israel will hold Syria responsible for attacks by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hizbullah in the Lebanon-Israel border region.

Israel says the air raid was in response to the Hizbullah rocket attack Saturday that killed an Israeli soldier in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area. The Syrian site, located some 12 miles east of Beirut, was destroyed by six air-to-ground missiles fired by four IAF planes. Monday's airstrike was the first Israeli attack on Syrian targets in Lebanon in five years.

The Israeli action is being widely condemned in the Arab world. Those speaking out include Jordan's Foreign Minister Abdul-ilah al-Khatib, who called the airstrike an unjustified escalation that may affect regional stability.

Khatib spoke in Jerusalem after meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. The Jordanian minister later met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. He was to present a Jordanian-Egyptian plan to defuse tensions between Israel and the Palestinians and to get to them to resume peace talks. Sharon told the Jordanian visitor Israel will not negotiate under the threat of violence.

The air strike drew praise from across the Israeli political spectrum. Former Minister Yossi Beilin (Labor) said that the airstrike was "correct and just." Science and Culture Minister Matan Vilnai (Labor), a former IDF major-general, similarly stated that Israel has no other way to tell the Syrians that continued Hizbullah terrorist attacks across the border would not be tolerated.

MK Ran Cohen (Meretz) said the move was "justified but perhaps not wise" at this time, as it "may lead to increased Hizbullah attacks." Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi said that now the Syrians will begin to be afraid, instead of the Jews in the Galilee.

A political commentator who spoke with Arutz-7 Monday agreed that although the radar station destroyed was an important target, the main message was in the very attack itself. "The fact that it is only 21 miles from Damascus and very deep inside Lebanese territory," said Middle Eastern affairs expert Dr. Yossi Olmert, "is a clear signal that Israel will not sit back without exacting a price from the aggressors."

U.S, Blames Hizbullah for Provoking Israel

By VOA News

The United States is blaming Hizbullah for provoking the Israeli airstrike on a Syrian military position in Lebanon. Spokesmen for the White House and State Department condemned what they called a dangerous escalation of violence in the last few days. Both blamed Hizbullah for initiating the escalation.

They said Hizbullah's attack on Israeli troops Saturday was a clear provocation designed to escalate an already tense situation. They declined to answer when asked whether Israel was justified in its airstrike against the Syrian radar station. The U.S. spokesmen urged all parties to exercise restraint and spoke of the need to end the cycle of violence.

Israel Retaliates Against Palestinians

By VOA News

Israeli helicopter gunships have attacked Palestinian positions in the Gaza Strip, in apparent retaliation for earlier Palestinian mortar attacks in southern Israel. Israeli radio and Palestinian witnesses said the Israeli attacks targeted positions held by Force 17 - Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's elite guard unit.

Israel said the Palestinian mortar attack on southern Israel was "a grave escalation" for which, it said, the Palestinian Authority was responsible. One mortar shell landed in the Israeli town of Sderot, about just over one mile from the Gaza border. Another landed in an empty field. There were no casualties or damage. Sderot is near the desert ranch of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Israeli tanks immediately fired at Palestinian police positions in Beit Hanun, the Gaza area closest to the Israeli town. Three Palestinians were reported wounded. In other violence Monday, Palestinian reports say Israeli shelling killed a doctor with the Palestinian naval forces and wounded a number of civilians in Gaza. Palestinian officials say Israeli forces also shot and wounded a Palestinian militiaman in the West Bank town of Hebron.

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