October 1, 2004
DAMASCUS BOMBING: LIKELY TO SPARK A 'FRESH CYCLE
** Israeli dailies praise
the "sharp signal to the Syrian regime."
** Euro and Arab papers
warn of a "further spiral of revenge attacks."
"state-sanctioned murder" proves Israel's "terrorist and
criminal" desires, say critics.
** Palestinian outlets seek
a "new political vision" as the Intifada marks its fourth
Damascus was 'humiliated'--
writers agreed that the "daring and successful" assassination of a
Hamas leader in Syria deserved "professional kudos." They judged the attack a "message sent
to Damascus," with pluralist Maariv stating that Israel has
"all the justification in the world to teach Syria a lesson" in light
of its "increasing support for terror organizations." The conservative Jerusalem Post argued
that such attacks bring the world "closer to victory" over the
international terrorist "jihad" by demonstrating that
terrorist-supporting states can be punished.
But liberal writers wondered if the operation was "smart, and not
only justified" and added that "liquidations" are "no
substitute for policy."
'Violence breeds only violence'--
commentators stressed that Israel's "foolish behavior" will "set
off a fresh cycle of assaults and counter-assaults" in the region. Germany's center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine predicted a "further escalation of the spiral of
violence." Arab observers said this
"new escalation," as they termed it, would "inflame the Middle
East." Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Jazirah
alleged Israel is "determined to escalate aggression"; other Arab
papers warned the conflict "might expand to Syria and Lebanon." Lebanon's moderate Daily Star
thundered that "striking another sovereign state is an act of
'Organized state terrorism'--
Arab dailies agreed that Israel's "flagrant flouting of international
law" is the "best embodiment of the term terrorism." Assailing PM Sharon's "terrorist and
criminal" policies, a Saudi observer said he has turned
"state-sponsored gangsterism into a fine art." Other papers blasted "Washington's
understanding" for Israel's "implacable amorality"; London-based
pan-Arab Al-Hayat held that the U.S. uses "diplomatic
terrorism" while Israel uses "security terrorism." Several outlets judged "American threats
against Syria" prove joint "U.S.-Israel conspiring" to
"target the entire Arab region," starting with Syria. As the UAE's pan-Arab Al-Khaleej put
it, "all Arabs are on the enemy's hit list."
Four 'wasted years'-- Palestinian observers concluded they are
"closer to losing than to winning" after the Intifada. A "serious and decisive" evaluation
of the Intifada is necessary because, noted independent Al-Ayyam,
"we're now far from establishing a free, independent state." Commemorating the "anniversary of the
blessed Al-Aqsa Intifada," other Arab papers urged Palestinians to make
"more effort, and...more sacrifice," including "firm steps
toward reforms." Euro writers
regretted the "deadlock" and saw "little reason for hope,"
joining Israeli outlets in seeing "no light at the end of the
tunnel." Left-leaning Ha'aretz
mourned the continuing "desperate and useless battle between Israeli force
and Palestinian despair."
Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202)
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media
Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a
representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the
Internet. This report summarizes and
interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views
of the U.S. Government. This analysis
was based on 57 reports from 16 countries over 25 - 30 September 2004. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most
BRITAIN: "Reckless And
The left-of-center Guardian editorialized (9/28): "No one doubts Israel's ability to
maintain its superiority over the Arabs....
But 'targeted killings', this newspaper believes, are wrong in principle
and invariably counter-productive in practice.... Israel clearly feels less isolated when its
loyal U.S. ally is waging an unfettered 'global war on terror.' But that does not mean there is a military
solution to its conflict with the Palestinians.
Critics of Ariel Sharon's government, including some Israelis, point out
that just because something is possible, and can be done with impunity, it is
not necessarily the right thing to do.
Factor in the provocation and humiliation of state-sanctioned murder in
the heart of an Arab capital and Mr. Sharon looks not only reckless but shortsighted."
"An Assassination Which Does Not Make Israel Safer"
An editorial in the center-left Independent read
(9/27): "Khalil was undoubtedly a
member of an organisation with blood on its hands. But all the Israeli government will achieve
through picking off Hamas members in this way is a further spiral of revenge
attacks.... Hamas has deep roots in the
Palestinian community, arguably deeper than Yasser Arafat's Fatah organisation,
and killing the present leadership only means that more radical elements come
forward. And the brutal nature of these
assassinations ensures that the ranks of Hamas are swelled. The only way for Israel to guarantee its
security is through peace talks and, eventually, a two-state settlement."
In The Caucasus"
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch said in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (9/27): "It is not
new that Israel kills militant Palestinians in neighboring countries...but the
most recent liquidation of Hamas leader Sheikh Khalil in Damascus signals a further
escalation of the spiral of violence.
With this crime, the front state Syria, which has so far stayed more or
less out of a direct confrontation with Israel and acted through proxies like
Hezbollah, has now been directly attacked.
President Assad must now respond.
As if that was not enough, the attack comes at a time when the Americans
and the UN have wrestled concessions from Damascus. With respect to the fight against terror,
Damascus wants to cooperate (a bit), and is willing to thin out (a bit) its
forces in Lebanon. But in view of this
attack, Syria is likely to stop this."
Dietrich Alexander observed in right-of-center Die Welt of
Berlin (9/27): "Israel's
intelligence service killed a high-level Hamas officer in Damascus…and if Mossad
really succeeded in infiltrating radical Palestinian organizations and in
getting information from Arabs, this means two things: the fatal attack on Sheikh Khalil in Damascus
will not have been the last against the radical leadership abroad, and Israel's
fight against extremists will internationalize.
It has got a new quality, even though the tactic is not new.... Syria will now demonstrate an outrage, but
Syria is on the defensive with respect to global politics. In an unusually clear way, the UNSC only
recently called upon Syria's President Assad to withdraw his soldiers from
Lebanon. And the U.S. is increasing
pressure to close the open border to Iraq to stop the flow of Arab terrorists
to Iraq. And Israel has now proven that
Syria is no longer a reserve for militant Palestinians."
"Extension Of The Combat Zone"
Arno Widmann argued in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung
(9/27): "Israel's attack on Sheikh
Khalil is directed against extremist Palestinians as well as against
Syria. This attack was supposed to
remind the Syrian leadership of what Israel will be able to do if President
Assad continues to support extremists.
It is very unlikely that Israel took that action without informing the
U.S. before. Washington has a massive
interest in slowing down the flow of Islamic fighters from Syria. In this respect, the attack from Damascus
will teach Syria a lesson. But the most
unpleasant idea that is nurtured by the attack is that Saddam's ouster and
Iraq's occupation will not make the Middle East a bit more peaceful, but, on
the contrary, it will contribute to leading to an extension of the combat zone
that is even harder to control."
Agony And Four Wasted Years"
Thomas Vieregge wrote in centrist Die Presse
(9/29): "The Second Intifada has
dashed all hopes for peace. No one believes any longer that faith can move
mountains.... The spiral of violence in
the Middle East has strengthened only two people--Ariel Sharon and Yasser
Arafat. And those two are making life in the region harder every day.... The peace process is at a deadlock, and for a
year now, there's been no dialogue. Nothing moves in the Middle East that has
been marginalized and put in the shade by the everyday terror in Iraq.... Reality--the barrier, the radicalization of
radicals among Hamas and the Jewish settlers--gives us little reason for hope,
only for concern."
Foreign Affairs Editor Gudrun Harrer commented
in liberal Der Standard (9/27):
"The timing of Israel's attack on a Hamas leader in Syria gives
rise to speculation. True, Israel had threatened such action weeks ago, but a
lot has happened in the meantime. First, Syria had to face the fact that
pressure can come not only from the US, but also from Europe, and even from
Arab countries.... The next step was
Syria trying to accommodate demands, a move that got the country praise even
from U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell....
Furthermore, via a UN envoy, Syria communicated its willingness to
negotiate with Israel, (something that Ariel Sharon immediately rejected,
stressing current troubles in Gaza)....
And now Ha'aretz writes that, prior to the Israeli strike, the
Syrian government had ordered closing down the offices of radical Palestinian
organizations, including Hamas. That leaves us with two possible
interpretations: Either, Israel believes that an attack on Syrian territory is
something Syrians can deal with at this point. Or, Israel is aiming at
escalation that would make null and void Syria's recently 'good marks.'"
SPAIN: "Four Years
Left-of-center El País wrote (9/30):
"Only the coexistence of two States (Israel and Palestine) will end
terrorism in the region and not solutions imposed by force, something that
Bush's Administration should understand.
The Road Map is over, and waiting for what next U.S. election has in
store, there is only one certainty: Sharon's will to keep his unilateral
decision to withdraw from Gaza, which does not satisfy Palestinian demands.... It is evident that the government of Israel,
encouraged by U.S. understanding, is going to keep up the line of selective
murders.... Damascus affirms that it is
closing offices of Palestinian terrorist groups. The government of Syria has condemned the
murder of the activist of Hamas, but it is aware that it can do little, only
cushioning the humiliation inflicted by Israel.
Syria is not the influential Arab power of the past anymore, and now it
adapt to the circumstances and tries not to irritate the U.S."
"Selective Murder In Syria"
Conservative La Razon opined (9/27): "The murder in Damascus of Hamas leader
Ezedine Sheikh Jalil...does not help to revitalize the peace process in the
region that even President Bush, in spite of the electoral season, supported on
his last speech at the UN. Only the
moderation of Syria and Hamas indicates that this attack won't lead to an
insurmountable crisis, and that there is still hope."
ISRAEL: "Support the
Liberal columnist Gideon Samet opined in
left-leaning, independent Ha'aretz (9/29): "The continued building
of the [Israeli] state will be possible only at the price of destroying the
shaky scaffolding of Jewish settlement in the midst of an Arab population. This truth is sharp and painful. The more acute this desperate and useless
battle between Israeli force and Palestinian despair becomes, the harder it
becomes to digest.... The disengagement [plan] will not remove the blindfold,
and it will not cancel out the repression in full. If it is carried out, the withdrawal and the
evacuation will be but a small part of what is waiting around the bend in the
road. But with all its limitations, it
serves up a lot more than the nothing at all of Israeli policy during the past
decade. Supporting it is the order of
the day at a time of great confusion."
Dan Margalit concluded in popular, pluralist Maariv
(9/28): "Professional kudos are due
to the unseen hand that killed the Hamas activist, Izzadin Subhi Sheikh Khalil,
in the heart of Damascus. However, I
will allow myself to cast my vote against this.... If Israel wants to kill a high-ranking
terrorist, who indeed deserved his fate, it needs to go ahead and do it, but
then shut up.... Let there be no
doubt: I would raise my hand and vote
against the assassination in Syria not only because of my displeasure with the
media hullabaloo, which will contribute to the murder of Israelis and Jews
around the world, but also for issue-oriented reasons.... Israel has the tools to use against [Syrian
President Bashar Assad] in the international arena, the media, the US Congress,
in Europe.... Had we exhausted those
options and had we made the significance of the activity of the terrorist
leaders in Damascus abundantly clear to international public opinion...we could
have considered that kind of strike in the heart of Damascus. But now? At a time in which the world is not
fully aware of the problem? That casts Israel as a rogue state.... The assassination of Izzadin Subhi Sheikh
Khalil is no substitute for policy. It
will add another layer to the Syrians' despairing from the chances of engaging
with Israel in dialogue. And it seems
that was what it was meant for."
"We're Still Here"
Ben Caspit remarked in popular, pluralist Maariv
(9/28): "Four years have passed
since Ariel Sharon toured the Temple Mount.
Four years of war. The two of
them, Sharon and the Temple Mount, find themselves in a similar situation. They both stand solidly, lonely at the top,
but beneath the surface they are facing real danger of collapse. Both have people digging beneath them. And there are cracks. And dangers.
And multiple threats. This war
was foreseeable. Both sides prepared for it energetically, almost from the
moment the Oslo accords were signed....
Now comes the argument over who won....
We won, because we didn't run away.
We held our ground in this horror heroically. We gritted our teeth. We fought....
And we also lost. Because we
don't have any light at the end of the tunnel.... Nevertheless, despite everything and in spite
of all, after four years of this war of ours, we are still here. True, not all
of us (more than a thousand of us are gone), but we are still standing
strong. We are here. And the impression one receives is that the
worst is behind us already. The question
is what lies ahead of us. That is
something that we still do not know."
"A Sharp Change"
Ronen Bergman said in pluralist,
mass-circulation Yediot Aharonot (9/27):
"The liquidation is a sharp change of line.... First, assassinations return as a central
instrument against terrorism, not only in the [occupied] territories, but the whole
world. Second, this is a sharp signal to
the Syrian regime that, if it continues to shelter such activity, it will
weaken. Third, in contrast with previous occasions.... Israeli security sources assumed
responsibility for the operation. In the long run, time will tell how wise it
was to confess this."
"Liquidations Are Not Enough"
Gad Shonron commented in popular, pluralist Maariv
(9/27): "Now we are left with the
hope that the creativity in the implementation of the operation attributed to
Israel, as well as the determination and readiness to assume responsibility,
will quickly permeate to other systems in Israel. Because a state that wants to
guarantee its security cannot rely on liquidations, even if they are daring and
"A Clear Signal To Damascus"
Ze'ev Schiff wrote in left-leaning, independent Ha'aretz
(9/27): "The assassination of the
Hamas leader in Damascus was not just an action directed against a terror
organization; it was a message sent to Damascus in response to its increasing
support for terror organizations....
Israel has taken steps against the Syrians in the past, when it sought
to express its anger over terror attacks--especially attacks by Hezbollah on
Israel's border with Lebanon. However,
the response was usually on the periphery, which minimized humiliation of the
regime in Damascus.... The question is,
how will Damascus respond, if it responds? It is very unlikely that the Syrian
leadership will seek open and direct military confrontation with Israel. But Syria's ability to respond has usually
manifested itself in indirect actions against Israel."
"All The Justification In The World"
Amir Rappaport noted in popular, pluralist Maariv
(9/27): "The operation attributed
to Israel in the heart of Damascus was not only settling scores with
Hamas. In fact, it was primarily aimed
against the Syrian regime, which was humiliated. And when it comes to the Syrians, there is no
doubt that Israel has all the justification in the world to teach Syria a
lesson. This justification stems from
the intolerable situation in which, in the heart of a capital city several
dozen kilometers away from Israel, sit the headquarters of terror organizations
that plan and initiate terror attacks against another country.... In the meantime, it would appear that more
than being concerned by a Syrian reaction, Israel should be well prepared for
the possibility that Hamas will react by attacking Israeli targets abroad. Apparently, we will soon be able to know if
the operation in the heart of Damascus was smart, and not only justified."
"A Freer World"
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post remarked
(9/27): "Israel and the U.S....are
showing the world how terrorists who were open about what they did and received
open support for it are now, literally, on the run. This is good news not only
for Israel, but for the cause of a freer and safer world in general. The more Israel's example is followed, rather
than pilloried, the closer we will all be to victory over the jihad that
threatens free peoples everywhere."
"Four Years Of Intifada, Lessons Learned"
Ahmad Majdalani commented in independent Al-Ayyam
(9/29): "The issue of formulating a
new political vision in light of important regional and international
transformations is extremely significant not just as a means to protect the
Intifada and secure its sustainability...but also as an attempt to highlight
the legitimate struggle that our people are engaged in and which all laws and
resolutions of international legitimacy accept.
More than ever before, the Intifada today is called upon to evaluate in
a serious and decisive fashion the styles and means it uses, in a way that
guarantees its protection, development and continuation.... Since the beginning, the Intifada has
proposed two direct goals: first, thwarting the American-Israeli attempts to
impose a final solution, starting with Camp David, to eliminate the Palestinian
cause, then continued in various forms, mainly the use of force to impose
surrender to Israeli-American dictates....
Second, moving from a defensive posture...to a going on the offensive as
a means of imposing what we want, which is to get rid of the occupation and
settlements, bring back refugees and have an independent state with Jerusalem
as its capital.”
"Foolish Behavior By Any Measure"
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (9/29): "The bombing that took place in
Damascus...was meant to send another message to the Syrian government in
addition to the one sent to the Palestinian factions’ leaders. This message to Damascus also bears the seal
of another sender, i.e., the U.S.... The
content of the message relates to the Syrian position on the Iraqi issue and
the accusations that Damascus is facilitating logistical matters for Iraqi
resistance fighters and that it has not sealed its borders to them, allowing
them to cross to Iraq to carry out their attacks against the occupation forces
and the collaborating Iraqi troops....
By this bombing, Israel has sparked a wide conflict that might expand to
Syria and Lebanon in addition to Iraq.
This act shows a grave miscalculation of the consequences.... By any measure, this is foolish behavior
regardless of who stands behind it.”
"The Intifada Enters Its Fifth Year: Has It Won, Lost, Or What?"
Hani Masri opined in independent Al-Ayyam (9/28): "The Intifada has not been defeated, yet
it has not won and, frankly speaking, it’s now closer to losing than to
winning. It has not been defeated since
Israel has never achieved its goals of breaking the will of the Palestinian
people and destroying their determination to achieve freedom and independence.... The Intifada must not be judged based on its
lack of victory against a militarily superior Israel, for that is more than the
Intifada can bear. It can be judged only
on its ability to achieve the national goals for which it broke out.... Undoubtedly, we’re now far from establishing
a free, independent state and achieving the right of return.”
"Four Years Of Intifada:
The Struggle Is Still On"
Rajab Abu Sariya wrote in independent Al-Ayyam (9/28): "Perhaps the biggest loser now, after
four years of bloody confrontations, is the formula of the solution both
parties reached in Oslo.... Unless an
outside power intervenes to get [Olso] back on track, the open-ended struggle
will push both parties to a strategic rethinking of their future relationship,
the terms of which, this time around, will not be able to disregard the
fundamental regional and international factors that will be decisive to the
future of both parties.”
Ahmad Dahbur said in official Al-Hayat
Al-Jadidah (9/27): "There is
nothing new in the assassination of our new martyr. There will be other martyrs
and the legitimate national resistance will continue in all forms designated by
civilized humanity. His martyrdom is
painful to Hamas, but conveys a message to Syria of more pressure supported by
Independent Al-Quds declared (9/27): "The crime of assassinating Shaykh Izz
al-Din Khalil in Damascus coincided with the assassinations episode that Israel
is carrying out against the Palestinian leaderships and activists [in the
Palestinian territories] although it knows well that the assassinations policy
will fail to break down the Palestinian people's will and their resistance This
will only make us adhere more to our rights and legitimate struggle for
"Israel's Clear Message"
Fu'ad Abu-Hijlah wrote in official Al-Hayat
"Assassinating Izz al-Din Khalil in this despicable manner carries
a clear Israeli message that all Palestinians are targets of Israeli terrorism
no matter where they are and that Israel can carry out sabotage in Syria with the
support of U.S. sponsorship and political positions that even prostitutes would
be ashamed of. This was only the
beginning. It seems that the line of
blood is drawing borderless lines for a sea of blood in the Middle East in
which all will drown."
Hasan al-Batal concluded in independent Al-Ayyam
(9/27): "Most probably, Damascus
will avoid, as usual, to retaliate directly in the Golan Heights for the blow
[of killing of Izz al-Din Khalil] in its heart. The most efficient method would
be to continue the peace attack' that embarrasses Israel and continue Syria's
role in sponsoring the Palestinian dialogue."
"Sharon's Terrorism Arrives in Damascus...And Other Places"
Pro-government small-circulation Al-Gomhouriya
editorialized (9/27): "Undoubtedly
Israel's criminal activities have moved afield to (Arab) Damascus...it will not
be the last venue for such a move. Israel will not restrict itself to Syria
unless Arabs wake up and understand they are all targeted!!"
"Years Of Intifadah"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazira editorialized
(9/30): "Israel is determined to escalate its aggression against the
Palestinians to convince them to surrender. On the other hand the Palestinians
are determined to continue their resistance in face of the brutal Israeli
attacks. In only the last two days
approximately fifteen Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and
Gaza... Facts show that the Palestinian question cannot be addressed by Israeli
"A Law Unto Itself"
The pro-government English-language Arab News declared
(9/28): "Ariel Sharon and his
government were probably congratulating themselves last night on a good day for
Zionism. Mossad agents had planted a
bomb beneath the car of a senior Hamas official in Damascus and assassinated
him. Israeli troops had poured in to the
refugee camp at Jenin in a further demonstrative clench of the iron fist in
which Sharon holds the occupied territories....
To cap the fine day, Israel soldiers used teargas and rubber bullets to
break up a 1,000-strong Palestinian demonstration against the security
wall.... Each of these acts was notable
for the fact that they not only display the implacable amorality of Sharon’s
Zionist administration...but each have also involved Israel in the flagrant
flouting of international law. The extra-judicial slaying of political
opponents is illegal. The occupation of Palestinian lands is illegal.... Yet successive governments in Tel Aviv have
not shrunk from throwing over all convention and legality whenever they deem it
necessary. Shielded by the U.S., the Israelis have mad state-sponsored
gangsterism into a fine art.... Zionist
supporters will no doubt have joined Premier Sharon yesterday in chuckling at
another day of buccaneering Israeli aggression against its enemies.... The similarities between the state-sponsored
terrorism of Israel and those President Bush alleged against Iraq are strong.
Yet Israel was not invaded by America....
The now almost ritual humiliation and brutalization of the Palestinians
by their immensely more powerful neighbor is building a mountain of fury and
bitterness. Every militant activist the Israelis assassinate produces a clamor
among dozens to replace him. Palestinians have gone beyond fear and nervous
self-interest. This is a people almost entirely radicalized by Israel’s illegal
behavior.... Key Zionists of course know
this. Their fear is not the suicide bomber but the peace table. As long as they
can avoid real negotiations they can stay as gangsters and do precisely what
London-based Arab nationalist Al-Quds
al-Arabi opined (9/28):
"Syria's policy of self-restraint is to blame for having allowed
Israeli Mossad agents to infiltrate the country and carry out the
assassinations of Hamas activists....
Damascus ought to review its policy after Khalil's assassination, as its
policy of self-restraint has not achieved anything except more humiliation at
the hands of Israel and America.... The
official silence on the repeated Israeli attacks on Syria, both in Lebanon or
in Damascus, is what encouraged the Mossad agents to take a further step
against Syria.... The balance of power
was in favor of Israel, just as we realize that the Arab position is in a state
of collapse. But...that did not mean
Syria should continue to accept Israeli blows in this shameful way, turning the
other cheek every time.... Hamas did not
launch military operations from Syria or Lebanon, or have training facilities
in either country, because the Syrian government did not allow it."
"The Intifada Anniversary"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina remarked (9/28): "Today marks the anniversary of the
blessed Al-Aqsa Intifada. In the wake of
Israel’s breach of every international resolution and agreement, and after Prime
Minister Sharon officially announced the death of the Road Map for peace plan,
violence in the region has increased, and the chance for peace has
diminished.... On the Intifada’s
anniversary it has become clear that the road to a Palestinian state has become
even bumpier than ever before. That is
why the Palestinian people must exert more effort, and make more sacrifice, to
achieve their objectives. A unification
of the diverse factions, and firm steps towards reforms, are a must. Otherwise the Intifada will lose its
"Ignoring International Will For Peace"
Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazirah held (9/28): "Every time the world fails to punish
Israel for its continuous aggressions against the Palestinian people, Israel
considers this failure a victory and an encouragement to commit more
crimes.... As long as the U.S. and
Israel have similar objectives and goals in the region, the fundamentals of the
Palestinian case will remain unresolved.
Israel and the U.S. ignore every international resolution that condemns
Israel [and will continue to do so] as long as Israel’s interests clash with
the Palestinian hope of an independent state, and as long as the U.S. remains
supportive of Israel."
"Another Chapter In The Extermination
Abdulwahab Badrakhan noted in London-based pan-Arab
Al-Hayat (9/28): "When
Israel sends its agents to commit a crime in Syria, would it be implementing an
American policy? The course of American pressure, which is now focused on
Syria, supposes this...not to mention an American-Israeli intelligence
coordination active in Iraq since its occupation.... There is an immediate and direct
extermination and a slow and phased one. The ugliest thing in this
extermination policy is that the U.S. supports it and does not suggest an
alternative; neither negotiations nor balanced and simultaneous procedures, not
even respect for people's ambitions; while Washington's horns are boasted with
pointless speeches about freedom and human rights let alone democracy, Ariel
Sharon discarded all these principles.
The assassination in Damascus only means that William Burns threatens
and Shaul Mofaz executes. The former practices diplomatic terrorism, and the
latter applies security terrorism. It is an unprecedented coordination in its
harmony and timing.... It is a war of
submission that has no goal other than prompting people to give up hope of
asking for their rights and surrender to the crumbs, which 'emperor' Sharon
throws. However, the 'emperor' himself is in trouble, and going to Syria to
assassinate Ezzeddine Sheikh Khalil would not save him. If his savagery served
him for a while, more savagery would not always serve him."
"Bombing In Damascus"
Zuheir Kseibati held in pan-Arab Al-Hayat
(9/27): "The Sharon government
started the second phase in the process of elimination of Hamas leaders and the
purging of its activities and icons; however, this time it is outside
Palestine.... Only two days separated
the assurances of former President of the Palestinian National Council Khaled
Al Fahoom, the shutting down of the offices of the Palestinians organization in
Damascus, and the car bombing of Khalil, despite Hamas leaders going
underground. Al Fahoom wanted to imply that Hamas and other Palestinian
organizations were either deprived of the privilege of the freedom of movement
and media, alternatively, they willingly relinquished these privileges in order
circumvent further American pressures against Syria--knowing that America is
waving the sword of sanctions....
However, what is required is to remove all of Syria's bargaining tools
including the Palestinian issue; because the current Israeli period calls for
closing the resistance chapter in Lebanon, Palestine, and elsewhere--even by
force.... There is much whispering
about...balanced American and Israeli pressures with a clear timetable for
President Bush and his so-called partner in the 'war on terror' starting from
Palestine to Iraq ending in Lebanon, where Hezbollah seems to be on the list.
The most dangerous thing about this partnership is that its declared objectives
are not only a process of bargaining or offers for a deal neither with Syria
nor with Lebanon because the period of coexistence with reality has ended. What
is required is to end the regional role of any state in the region and the
continuation of utilizing the hammer of pressures and manipulations.... Quite simply, the bombing superseded the
message of addressing threats."
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina noted (9/27): "Sharon is wrong again if he believes
that aggressive policies against the heroic Palestinian uprising [Intifada]
will suppress the courageous resistance of the Palestinian people. The killing of innocent people and the
displacement of thousands of families will only make the Palestinians more
determined to continue their struggle against the tyrannical
occupation.... Sharon ought to realize
that violence breeds only violence, and that his policies to curb the Intifada
have only led to increased violence that dragged the region into a chaotic
"The Aqsa Intifada: Martyr Muhammad Durrah"
Abha's moderate Al-Watan commented
(9/27): "Yesterday, Israel
assassinated one of the Hamas Movement cadres.... Israel wanted to send a security and
political message to Syria ahead of the fifth anniversary of the intifada, as
well as satisfy some of its own ambitions and those of Washington's."
"Damascus Between Israeli Aggression And
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazirah contended
(9/27): "Israel's intention is to
target the entire Arab region....
Yesterday's assassination of Hamas official abroad, Izz-al-Din al-Shaykh
Khalil, is consistent with Israel's policy which seeks to ensure that tension
remains in the region.... The new
aggression also coincides with the U.S. threats against Syria.... Therefore, the Israeli aggression goes
hand-in-hand with the American stance towards Syria."
The pro-government English-language Arab News held
(9/27): "Tomorrow, when the fourth
anniversary of the Palestinian intifada is commemorated, the situation might
look not much different from last year or even the year before. The complete
standstill in negotiations, the continuing bloodshed and the prospects of any
sort of peace agreement being reached all look so familiar. But the truth is
that the situation is graver than that a year ago; indeed the current impasse
is one of the worst in years.... Arafat
remains a virtual prisoner in his headquarters or what remains of it in
Ramallah.... Sharon has promised that
Arafat will get what he deserves, interpreted to mean either the PA president
will be assassinated or expelled from the territories, although he is the
legitimate leader of the Palestinians, a leader no less legitimate than any
elected head of state, like Bush. The
wall of separation...continues to be built despite the ruling by the ICJ that
Israel has no right to put up such a barrier. It is a land grab of immense
proportions.... The other land grab is
of course the one promulgated by Sharon and Bush in the now famous White House
declaration made this spring giving Israel the right to remain forever in parts
of the West Bank while canceling forever the right of Palestinians to return to
their homeland.... Sharon, who
instigated the uprising with his visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque, has kept the intifada
in perpetuation with his targeted killings of Hamas leaders including Sheikh
Yassin and his deputy Rantissi, his incessant raids into Gaza that kill and
maim scores of Palestinians every time, activists and otherwise, and offering
nothing on condition that the Palestinians concede everything."
"Another Blow For ME Peace"
The English-language pro-government Daily Tribune contended
(9/28): "The assassination of the
Hamas leader, Izz Eddeen Shaikh Khalil, in Damascus marks a new escalation in
the Palestine-Israel war. It also marks a new development in the Syria-Israel
conflict. The Israelis feel no shame and
have no concern about killing the people they do not like.... Gone are the international values; lost is
the need to uphold international legitimacy; wasted are efforts to build some
kind of peaceful coexistence.... What
remains is a belligerent state that knows no border, respects no neighbour and
acknowledges no limit. The international
community does not want to fall out of favour with the Israeli lobbies.... It lapses into a deep silence and secretly
hopes that the whole issue will be over soon.... There is obviously no hope for peace. The Israelis assassinated Izz Eddeen Shaikh
Khalil at a time when Egypt was holding talks with the Palestinians on a
possible ceasefire.... Such an
act...will only compound a terrible situation and reinforce the impression that
the Israelis have their own agenda that does not concur with that of the
international community. It is not the
first time that Israel kills a senior Hamas figure.... But it is the first time that Damascus is the
theatre of an Israeli assassination of a Hamas leader. The assassination on
Sunday took place in the heart of the Syrian regime. Now, the question that begs to be asked is
will Syria respond in indirect actions against Israel or will it choose to look
the other way?"
"This Is Terrorism In Essence"
Center-left influential Al-Dustour
declared (9/27): "The assassination
of Abd-al-Aziz al-Shaykh Khalil, one of the leaders of the Palestinian Hamas
movement, in Damascus is the best embodiment of the term terrorism.... There must be a reaction at all levels so
that Israel understands that it cannot get away easily with violating the
sovereignty of Arab states."
LEBANON: "The Twin
Challenges In Palestine And Other Arab Countries"
An editorial in the moderate English-language Daily
Star held (9/29): "The
Palestinian intifada marked the completion of its fourth consecutive year
yesterday, and, not surprisingly, Palestinian street anger is directed these
days at both the Israelis for their brutal occupation and at Yasser Arafat's
incompetent and often corrupt governance system for the failures it has
registered in the past decade. The merits or otherwise of the 1993 Oslo accords
that allowed Arafat to return to the West Bank and Gaza Strip at the head of
the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be debated for many years. Beyond the
question of whether the accords could have led the way to legitimate
Palestinian statehood and a fair resolution of the refugee problem is the fact
that the PA has squandered a golden opportunity to establish a domestic
governance system characterized by transparency, accountability, merit and
efficiency. A month ago Palestinians
took to the street and protested violently--against Arafat and the PA, along
with the ongoing protests and resistance against the Israeli occupation.
Pledges of reform by Arafat have mostly not materialized, and frustration and
anger continue to boil up against the local indignities that ordinary
Palestinians feel at the hands of their own leaders. Two lessons suggest themselves as
Palestinians, Israelis and all other interested parties assess the consequences
of the last four years of the intifada. The first is that a foreign military
occupation, regardless of its justification or cause, will always generate a
fierce indigenous response of resistance and a will for liberation.
Palestinians have reconfirmed this universal truth--not because they are
special or different, but because they are identical to all other people in the
world. The second lesson is that foreign
aggression or subjugation cannot forever detract from a people's domestic will
to live in dignity and to be treated with respect by their own government. That
Palestinians protest against Yasser Arafat almost as much as they protest
against Ariel Sharon is a sad comment on their condition. Liberation from
foreign occupation and reform of domestic institutions remain the twin challenges
for Palestinians and all Arabs."
"Hamas’ Command Is Not Considering Returning To Damascus
Ali Al-Amin asserted in independent Al-Balad (9/28): “The Hamas command received messages from
European diplomatic missions several days before the assassination of Hamas
officials in Damascus. These messages
informed them that Mosad was planning operations to target Hamas officials in
Lebanon and Syria. These messages
coincided with American calls for Syria to remove Hamas and Jihad offices from
Syria to other countries.... As a
result, Hamas intensified security measures around its offices in Lebanon and
Syria, however, its officials will stay outside Syrian until the situation
changes.... A Palestinian official
believes that Washington is adamant about wanting Damascus to rein in the
activities of the Islamic Jihad and Hamas and stop any possible Syrian
assistance to the Syrian Intifada....
Same sources believe that Hizbullah will be subjected to massive
pressure as well and thinks that Israel might shell Palestinian locations
"Assassination In Damascus:
Are The Controls Lifted?"
Rafiq Khoury wondered in centrist Al-Anwar (9/28): “Israel is practicing state terrorism under
the title ‘war against terrorism’.... It
is not only chasing and killing Palestinian fighters on their own land, but it
is targeting them everywhere....
Assassinating Hamas officials in Damascus is not only a 'message’.... This operation signals the beginning of a new
phase in the Arab/Israeli conflict which is much more dangerous than
before.... Following UNSCR 1559, Israel
believes that it is allowed to carry out assassinations in Damascus without
fearing any American attempt to control its actions.... Furthermore, there is no doubt that Israel is
not in favor of enhanced American-Syrian relations because better relations
will prohibit it from implementing its operations in Syria.... The game Israel has embarked upon is
"Embrace The Resistance"
Sateh Nouriddine held in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(9/28): "The Syrian regime, instead
of shutting down Palestinian factions' headquarters in Syria--a U.S. and
Israeli demand--could respond to this alleged breach in the country's security
by embracing the Palestinian question and Syria's support of all spectra of
Palestinian resistance against Tel Aviv....
The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks turned Palestinian freedom fighters into
terrorists in the eyes of the West, and transformed Arab intelligence
apparatuses into CIA branches that hunt down Al-Qaeda elements. The only way Arabs can redeem the image of
the Palestinian resistance...is by all Arab capitals embracing the Palestinian
cause.... Israel is trying to change the
rules of Israeli-Syrian confrontation, as the struggle used to take place
indirectly on Lebanese soil.
However...the terrifying echoes of Khalil's assassination in Damascus
have reached Beirut, where the security situation is more fragile."
"Israel’s Deadly Message To The Arab World"
The moderate English-language Daily Star maintained
(9/28): “For those who think Israel is a
non-invasive entity in the Middle East, Sunday’s assassination of a Hamas
official...in Damascus proves, once again, that it is. Israeli security sources have been quoted on
Israeli television as saying they were behind the killing, and deputy Defense
Minister Zeev Boim has threatened Syria with further pre-emptive strikes.... If Israel were not a colonial-settler entity
founded on Palestinian land, if it did not continue to occupy Arab territory
seized in wars of conquest, if it did not continue to oppress the Palestinian
people and deny them their own state with consistent belligerence and racist
policies, then one could concede it had a right to defend itself against
unprovoked aggression. Even so, striking
inside another sovereign state is an act of war. By this latest act of war, Israel has
introduced a new element of instability in the region that will persist at
least until after U.S. elections in November.”
"The Last Stop"
Sateh Noureddine wrote in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(9/27): “Israel has been repeating its
threats lately about plans to violate Syria’s internal security. However, it was not known at the time whether
Israel aimed at terrorizing Damascus...or just plans to continue assassination
of Hamas officials anywhere in the Arab world.... In any case, it seems that there is an
American-Israeli decision to move the battle outside Iraq and Palestine. Syria seems like an excellent arena--and
perhaps the only arena available at this point in time.... Israel deliberately announced its
responsibility for the assassination of the Hamas official in Damascus to make
it known that it can repeat this crime anytime it wants inside Syria.... This is a serious and dangerous violation
which signifies Israel has opened a new front.”
"Syria Faces A New Phase"
Simon Bou-Fadel stated in independent, non-sectarian Ad-Diyar
(9/27): “The assassination...of a Hamas
official in Damascus is within the context of...Sharon’s ‘targeted killings’
policy.... However, this particular
assassination is more dangerous because it took place following a series of
Israeli assassinations of Hizbullah figures in Beirut.... This means that Israel has no problem in
carrying out its crimes outside Israel, and actually benefits from the
international atmosphere which was created as a result of UNSCR 1559. Damascus already confronted a series of
security incidents, beginning with the Kurdish riots, followed by the shelling
of the UN building located near the American Embassy in Damascus. Intensive steps are also being taken by the
Syrian opposition, which is getting more noticeable and public every
day...Furthermore, it seems that the U.S. and France have begun contact with
the Syrian opposition.... Damascus has
to realize that it must deal with this new reality with a new mentality.”
Investigative Ash-Sharq declared
(9/28): "The assassination of
Khalil...was a perfect crime.... The
Syrian government should try its best to punish the perpetrators to prevent
Israel from getting away with it.... The
bombing of the Hamas member coincided with the fourth anniversary of the start
of the Palestinian uprising, which...killed over 4,000 people, three-fourths of
them Palestinians.... It was unfortunate
that after all these years, Israel is still incapable of understanding the
requirements for peace.... The past four
years had obstructed the peace process and led to the complete distrust between
Palestinians and Israelis. The
assassination is an important indicator that Sharon doesn't care about all that
has happened, and perhaps will not be content until the entire region is set
"Assassination Of Khalil A Worrying Development"
The semi-official English-language Gulf Times
declared (9/27): "Less than 24
hours after demolishing 35 homes in Khan Younis, the Israeli government
committed another serious crime yesterday, assassinating Ezzedine Sheikh
Khalil, one of the founders of the Hamas movement.... Khalil was murdered...in the Syrian capital,
Damascus. In the Mafia-style attack, a
bomb was put under the seat of Khalil’s car and detonated.... Hamas accused Israel’s Mossad...of carrying
out the killing, as Israel is the only party which has an interest in murdering
Palestinian leaders.... Palestinian
sources in Gaza said Khalil was believed to be in charge of Hamas’s military
outside the Palestinian territories, which is inactive.... His office worked primarily as an information
centre..... Yesterday’s attack is a
dangerous development, especially as Hamas had already stopped their work in
Syria to avoid embarrassing their hosts at a time when there is increased U.S.
pressure on the Syrian authorities....
Yesterday’s killing is further evidence that Israel does not respect
international law. It is analogous with the attempted murder of a Palestinian
activist Khalid Maashal in Jordan exactly seven years ago.... Unfortunately, Israel’s record shows that it
has no respect for international law or treaties it has signed, regarding them
as no impediment to the murder of Palestinians anywhere.... If ever an example is needed of a rogue state
which exports terror, engages in an illegal occupation, violates international
law and is guilty of widespread oppression and human rights abuses, there is no
need to look any further than Israel."
Omar Jaftaly, an editorialist in government-owned Tishreen,
commented (9/28): "Certainly the
assassination was carried out with the concurrence of Sharon and Mofaz and the
rest of extremist generals who assassinated Sheikh Yasin and Al-Rantisi and
continued their assassinations in the occupied territories in belief that
terrorism, killings and demolishing Palestinian infrastructure will prolong
occupation.... The Sharon government's
extremism wouldn't have reached this dangerous level without the US Administration's
support which is guiding an open campaign of threat against Syria.... Certainly, the U.S. Administration is
responsible for Israeli violations. Israel wouldn't have expanded its
aggression against the Palestinian people hadn't felt protected by the US. Here
lies the real danger. This U.S.-Israeli conspiring torpedoes US
credibility...and violates international law."
Ahmad Dawa, an editorialist in government-owned Al-Thawra,
commented (9/28): "In an escalatory
step that reflects Israel's terrorist nature, the Mossad has committed a
terrorist crime against a harmless Palestinian civilian in Damascus.... No one can ignore Israel's exasperation
caused by progress in the U.S.-Syrian dialogue.... The Israeli government seeks to reshuffle
cards and to prevent stability in the region. Israel has committed this ugly
crime hoping to find an exit for its security and political crises through this
dangerous escalation.... The world
community which claims concern about combating terrorism should hasten to
condemn this Israeli crime so as to avoid its reoccurrence.... The terrorist and criminal inclinations of
Sharon's government dictates caution and alertness especially in the critical
coming period during which Israel might exploit international and American
circumstance to carry out its aggressive goals against Palestinians and
"Israel State Terrorism Must Be
Fouad Mardoud stated in the English-language
government-owned Syria Times (9/28):
"Those who ordered and planned the assassination of Izz al-Din
Shaikh Khalil...had clear political objectives. They aimed to disturb the
already disturbed Middle East, and to send a clear message that they still
adopt state terrorism as an official policy....
The Israelis have embarked on playing a dangerous, risky and deadly
game--for them, for the Middle East and for the peace process.... The Israeli government of Ariel Sharon has no
interest in creating an atmosphere that can help ease the tension in the Middle
East or even to start any process that could help revive peace efforts. Israel
has not hesitated to use the maximum degree of force against
Palestinians.... The American view on
Sharon's policies and Washington's understanding...means giving him a free hand
to carry on his repressive, terrorist policies.... And against the background of this farce.
Arabs see a new chapter being added to the already violent and dark chapters in
the region. Anyway, Sharon's policies of
assassination especially the murder of Khalil will not help Israel's efforts to
bring Palestinians to their knees. It will rather help inflame the Middle East,
and add more chaos to its disturbed situation.... If anything is to be saved from the
disaster--if peace is to have a chance--there should be fresh action from the
international community to condemn and stop Israel's terrorism."
"Terrorism, An Israeli Commodity"
Muhammad Ali Buzah asserted in government-owned Al-Thawrah
(9/26): "Terrorism is an Israeli
product exported to the region and the world to spread chaos and unrest and
divert attention from the crime of the age, namely, the slaughtering of the
Palestinian people.... Israel makes a
mistake if it thinks that the state of chaos on the world stage and the
deliberate confusion between resistance and terrorism absolve it from the war
crimes and ethnic cleansing it is practicing in the region and against the
defenseless Palestinian people....
Israel, since its usurpation of Palestine in 1948, has been practicing
organized state terrorism at its highest levels and in its most degenerate
forms.... The UN SecGen, in his speech
to the UN General Assembly, boldly, though belatedly, touched on the serious
violations of and the shameful disregard for the international law worldwide,
giving Palestine and Iraq as examples, where the superpower--the U.S.--and its
spoiled strategic ally--Israel--are using brutal excessive force against
innocent civilians.... There is a
increasing need for an international conference to discuss and define terrorism
and differentiate between it and the legitimate resistance against occupation.
This is the way to make the world safer."
"A Serious Development"
Sharjah-based pan-Arab Al-Khaleej
contended (9/28): "With the
assassination of a Hamas activist in Syria, Israel had taken its terrorism
across the borders, as if it wasn't enough for it to carry out its massacres in
Palestine and its occasional attacks on Lebanon.... The assassination of Khalil in a car bomb
explosion in Damascus on Sunday...was a serious development that should not be
ignored.... Extreme caution is needed
during the few weeks left before the American elections in early November,
because Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is continuing his methods to
benefit from the support, cover and protection that the current U.S.
administration is giving in the final hours of its life.... The failure of Arab countries to unite in the
face of the enemy, by returning to its boycott instead of racing for
normalization with it, means another Arab capital will be violated soon because
all Arabs are on the enemy's hit list."
"Israel Follows Its Master, The U.S."
The English-language expatriate-oriented Gulf News
maintained (9/28): "When America
undertakes proactive extra-territoriality, it is not surprising that its
hand-in-glove partner, Israel, should do the same. For if the world's only
hyper-power can get away with such activities with impunity, then who is there
to stop Israel when they are so fully supported by America? Countering the aggression of Israel is likely
to lead to whole-scale war in the region, something even the Israeli government
is aware can happen, which is why its incursions into foreign lands are few,
but of deadly intent. Successive Israeli
governments have always felt quite secure in repeatedly invading what little
Palestinian land is available to the Palestinians, most land being occupied by
Israelis. Now, Israel has turned its attention to long-time foe, Syria.... Yet Syria has responded by stating that
terrorist activities by Hamas, undertaken from Syria, ceased when the office
was closed down last year. What is
especially appalling about Israel's contempt for international legalities is
that there has been no condemnation of the attack from any western country, and
even the Arab world has remained mute.
It is because of this silence that Israel continues its aggression
towards its neighbours, and forges ahead with its own plans.... Witness, for example, yesterday's incident of
the Israeli army's incursion into the West Bank city of Jenin.... Witness it, make note of it if you will, but
like the majority, say and do nothing about it."
"Share Of Responsibility"
The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf
Today maintained (9/27): "The
assassination of Hamas activist Izzeddine Subhi Sheikh Khalil in Damascus...is
a blatant Israeli message to the world that Israel would stop at nothing in
implementing its agenda of oppressing Palestinian resistance wherever and
whenever possible.... The way he was
murdered in Damascus by a car-bomb--no doubt planted by Israeli agents as
acknowledged in private by Israeli officials--highlights that Israel's Mossad
secret service has tentacles spread everywhere, including the highly
security-minded Syria. In strict legal
terms, it is difficult to prove Israel was behind the assassination, but the
world, particularly the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims at large need not see a
smoking gun. The Israeli footprints are all over the attack; and we also know
that Israelis had been behind hundreds of carbombs that exploded in Lebanon
during the civil war in that country....
The sinister aspect of the affair is that Israel is emboldened to adopt
such a stand in public in defiance of the international community. The world knows and generally accepts the
right of the Palestinian people to resist the Israeli occupation of their
land.... However, the all-embracing
umbrella of protection that the world's sole superpower is extending to it has
emboldened the Jewish state to undertake any adventure in the
neighbourhood.... No doubt, Israel has
set off a fresh cycle of assaults and counter-assaults. The vicious circle of
bloodshed in the Middle East has been triggered by its own policies of
occupying other's territories by force...and then gunning down everyone who
opposed its expansionist ambitions and terror campaign. Caught in the web that Israel has woven would
be innocent bystanders, both inside the green line of 1967 as well as the
occupied territories.... The pity is
that the world has been left being a bystander, with the powers which could
make a difference turning either accomplices of the aggressor or preferring not
to get involved in the mess that is the Middle East today. And they bear a
large share of responsibility for the predictable events that would follow the
murder of Khalil."
"Murder Of Hamas Leader Complicates Middle East Situation"
Leading independent Kompas observed
(9/28): "The bomb attack that
killed a Hamas leader in Damascus added new tension to the Middle East
conflict. Syria and Hamas accused
Israeli secret agents of being behind the attack that killed Sheikh Khalil. Israel seems to confirm the accusation
because there has been no denial of it.
Meanwhile, Syria expressed its outrage for the attack within its
territory, right in its capital. Syria
feels it has been insulted. Hamas
threatened to retaliate. They threatened
to target Israel interests all over the world.
Apparently, this move is launched to offset Israel’s measures of hunting
down Hamas leaders outside the conflict areas of West Bank and Gaza.... Israel’s retaliatory action killing Yassin,
Rantisi, or Khalil have not discouraged the Hamas guerillas, but the opposite. Moreover, Hamas guerillas do not find suicide
bombing as something that frightens them, but they see it as a heroic action.”
PAKISTAN: "Middle East
Situation Threatens To Get Out Of Control"
The Lahore-based liberal English-language Daily Times
editorialized (9/25): "Violence
continues in Gaza and the West Bank. Two days ago three Palestinians and three
Israeli soldiers were killed. Some reports suggest a settlers’ group may be
planning to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque.
One report says a mob of Israeli settlers tried on Thursday to set the
mosque on fire. Pakistan’s National
Assembly and Senate on Friday passed a resolution unanimously condemning the
abortive act of arson and demanded that the United Nations should take notice
of it.... The Israeli peace camp thinks
the U.S. cannot do much to broker peace because of the influence of the
American Jewish lobby and the possibility of Washington doing so becomes even
more remote in the run-up to the presidential elections. In the event, pious wishes apart, we need to
brace ourselves for more violence and insanity in the Middle East, with a
potential to spill out of the Middle East."