Roadmap to War... 

Roadmap to War...

Interesting increase of tension in the Middle East.

First, Israel bombs Syria. No justification, no cause, no international agreement that it might be warranted. Not even a vague attempt to consult the United Nations. They simply flew over and bombed Syria.

Shooting over the Israel-Lebanon border.

Outrage in Syria over the Israeli bombs. Understandable.

Then, for some insane reason, the USA backs Israel, claiming it was right for Israel to unilaterally decide to go and bomb a sovereign nation. Well, I guess that just shows us who pays the bills in Washington DC.


Israeli soldier killed on Lebanese border

Tuesday 07 October 2003, 5:08 Makka Time, 2:08 GMT

A Israeli soldier has been shot dead in an exchange of fire across the tense Lebanon-Israeli border.

Israeli troops came under fire from the Lebanese side of the border Monday evening, said Aljazeera???s correspondent in Israel quoting local security sources. Two other soldiers were reportedly wounded.

In a separate incident, a Lebanese boy was killed in unclear circumstances early Tuesday morning.

Israel said Hizb Allah fighters were responsible for the killing of its soldier. But the Lebanese resistance group has denied its forces were involved.

In response, Israeli troops returned fire and hit a bus travelling along a normally secure road near the border between the villages of Adayseh and Kfarkila, agencies reported. There were no casualties, Lebanese police said.

Hizb Allah was formed as a resistance group in the early 1980s following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Backed by Syria and Iran, it waged a guerrilla against Israeli occupation forces and their local proxies until 2000, when Israel pulled its troops back.

Missile death

Early on Tuesday, a missile landed on a house in a south Lebanon town, killing a boy and wounding his brother.

One security source told Reuters in Beirut the origin of the missile was unclear. Other security sources said the missile was probably fired at Israel from inside Lebanon but fell short.

The missile-related death and cross-border shooting followed an earlier incident, when a lorry belonging to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was hit by gunfire on Monday, agencies reported.

"A UNIFIL water truck was hit by three bullets from the
Israeli side," a UN official told Reuters. "All our trucks are clearly marked.

Regional tension

Lebanese security sources also said Israeli troops had opened fire across the border earlier in the day. But Israel denied its troops had been involved.

The border incidents come amid great regional tension, just a day after Israel launched its deepest air strike into Syria for 30 years, attacking what it said was a training camp for Islamic jihad fighters.

It described the raid as self-defence following a bombing of a restaurant in the Israeli town of Haifa on Saturday that left 19 dead.

The airstrike has attracted widespread international criticism and worries about regional stability.


Syrian public outrage over attack

Monday 06 October 2003, 19:46 Makka Time, 16:46 GMT

Many ordinary Syrians have voiced their anger over Israel's air strike near Damascus, with some calling for reprisals and others enraged by US reaction.

The raid, Israel's deepest into Syria since the 1973 Middle East war, was a violent shock.

One taxi driver, Mahir Awad, echoed others around him who hoped for a military response on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the war.

Awad said: ???I couldn't believe my ears when I heard. I wish I was there with a shotgun in my hand.???

A university student, Jamal, said he hoped the government would send its own air force ???to show them what Syrians can do".

US criticises Damascus

Israel alleges the raid targeted a training camp for Palestinian resistance fighters.

But Syria denies the accusation and denounced the attack.

Damascus has also urged the United States not to block a UN Security Council resolution condemning the attack.

However, US Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte has accused Syria of harbouring "terrorists" and refused to criticise Tel Aviv for the strike.

Sharon's record

One elderly man, Abu Qasim said: "This man [Negroponte] was talking as if he owns the world telling us we are terrorists. Did he forget what [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon did in Sabra and Shatila?"

Sharon, then defence minister, is widely blamed for the 1982 massacre by Israeli-backed Lebanese Christian militiamen in Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon, in which hundreds of civilians were killed.

"There is no sense of right and wrong anymore. Those Americans and Israelis think they are strong but they forget that Allah is stronger."

"There is no sense of right and wrong anymore," Abu Qasim added. "Those Americans and Israelis think they are strong but they forget that Allah is stronger."

Iman, a housewife, said she was scared after the raid that her children were not safe.

"If they did it once they can do it again and the next time it may be bigger. They kill people in Palestine all the time," added the young mother of two.

Palestinian reaction

She was the only one to voice fear among a dozen people interviewed in Damascus, but her concern was echoed at Palestinian camps in Beirut.

"The Israeli monster is out of control now, no one can stop it. It has gone crazy," said Walid, a resident of Burj al-Barajna camp. "All Palestinians abroad are targets now."

The Israeli raid was widely seen to have further damaged any prospect for Middle East peace.

"All this talk about peace is false. What the Israelis really want is new massacres," said Abu Salah, a resident of Beirut's Shatila camp.


Syria backed by UN, blamed by US

Monday 06 October 2003, 19:02 Makka Time, 16:02 GMT

Faisal Mikdad, Syria's UN envoy, called for censure of Israel

UN members have lined up in the Security Council to condemn Israel after its deepest air raid into Syria in 30 years, with one predictable exception - the United States.

In an emergency meeting of the 15-nation council, called after Israel attacked what it claimed was a training camp for Palestinian resistance fighters near Damascus, council member Syria called for an immediate vote on a draft resolution condemning the Israeli action.

Syrian Ambassador Faisal Mikdad urged the council to voice "grave concern" at the escalating tensions in the Middle East and condemn the Israeli raid as a violation of international law and the UN Charter.

But Israel insisted that the raid, carried out a day after a Palestinian resistance bombing in Haifa killed 19 people, was carried out in self-defence, as a measure against terrorist attacks.

The United States, Israel???s key ally, downplayed the raid instead accusing Damascus of fuelling terrorism.

Israel accuses Damascus of fuelling attacks by harbouring, training and funding Palestinian guerilla groups.

All but one

Of those council members who spoke during the emergency session, all but Washington denounced both the Haifa attack and the raid on Syria.

"The answer to individual acts of terrorism is not state terrorism nor is it wanton attacks against other countries in violation of international law."

Even the US???s nominal allies in its ???war on terror??? accused Israel of illegal aggression.

Spanish Ambassador Inocencio Arias told the council that the Haifa bombing "cannot lead us to overlook or minimise the extreme gravity of the attack perpetrated today against Syria. That attack is a clear violation of international law."

British Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry strongly condemned the Haifa bombing, but said Israel's attack represented an escalation of the conflict and undermined the peace process.

Pakistani Ambassador Munir Akram went further, saying, "The answer to individual acts of terrorism is not state terrorism nor is it wanton attacks against other countries in violation of international law."

Dozens of Middle Eastern ambassadors also slammed Israel.

US counsels 'restraint'

But US Ambassador John Negroponte, who has veto power in the council, was critical only of Syria.

He said Washington had learned about the raid only after it was carried out and had advised both Syria and Israel to exercise restraint.

"And we have consistently told Syria that it must cease harbouring terrorists and make a clean break from those who are responsible for the planning and directing of terrorist actions from Syrian soil," he added.

"Let's not forget that a suicide bombing took place in Haifa ... It just is incredible to me that a draft resolution ... would have no reference whatever to this dastardly act"

Negroponte also made clear the Syrian draft, which made no reference to the Haifa bombing, would not pass as written.

"Let's not forget that a suicide bombing took place in Haifa; 19 Israelis were killed, including some Arab Israelis; 50 more people were wounded. It just is incredible to me that a draft resolution coming from a member of the council would have no reference whatever to this dastardly act," he said.

Tables turned

Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman accused Syria of "complicity and responsibility" in Palestinian attacks on his country and said Syria should be in the dock.

"For Syria to ask for a debate of the council is comparable to the Taliban calling for such a debate on 9/11. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious," he said.

The Taliban provided a base for al-Qaida, which Washington blames for the 11 September, 2001 attacks.

The fate of the resolution was unclear after the emergency session ended late on Sunday evening.

Negroponte said the measure would first have to be sent to capitals for study and added that there had as yet been no discussion of the timing of any vote.

Other diplomats said there would certainly be no action on Monday, the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.


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