International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

October 1, 2004

October 1, 2004





**  Israeli dailies praise the "sharp signal to the Syrian regime."

**  Euro and Arab papers warn of a "further spiral of revenge attacks."

**  The "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 anniversary.




Damascus was 'humiliated'--  Israeli 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'--  Elsewhere, 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 war." 


'Organized state terrorism'--  Hardline 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) 203-7888,


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 recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Reckless And Myopic"


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."


GERMANY:  "Escalation 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."


AUSTRIA:  "Mideast 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."


"Syrian See-Saw"


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 Later"


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 Disengagement Plan"


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."


"Gratuitous Assassination"


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 successful."


"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."


WEST BANK:  "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 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.”


"Nothing New"


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 U.S. ruffianism."




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 freedom."


"Israel's Clear Message"


Fu'ad Abu-Hijlah wrote in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah (9/27):  "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."


"Embarrass Israel" 


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."


EGYPT:  "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) 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!!"


SAUDI ARABIA:  "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 suppressive measures."


"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 they like."


"Excessive Self-Restraint"


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 meaning."


"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 Policy"


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."


"Unsuccessful Strategy"


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 whirlpool."


"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 American Threats"


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."


"Fourth Anniversary"


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."


BAHRAIN:  "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?"


JORDAN:  "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 Soon"


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 inside Syria.”


"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 extremely dangerous.”


"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 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 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.”


QATAR:  "Perfect Crime"


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 ablaze."


"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 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."


SYRIA:  "Deep-Rooted Terrorism"


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."


"Organized Terrorism"


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 Arabs."


"Israel State Terrorism Must Be Stopped"


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."


UAE:  "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 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."




INDONESIA:  "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."



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