|Israel Resource Review
||8th February, 2000
When the Palestinian Army Invades the Heart of Israel
by Yuval Steinitz
Whatever they may have accomplished or failed to
accomplish politically, the Oslo accords of 1993 between Israel
and Yasir Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization have
transformed Israel's security situation in ways that have still
not been squarely faced. Much of the territory in the West Bank
and Gaza that Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day war is now
governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA).
This embryonic state already possesses a large, militia-like police force
comprising some 40,000 men; depending upon the outcome of present
negotiations, it may come to acquire a combination of paramilitary and
military forces as well.
Although Israel will undoubtedly retain military superiority over its
fledgling Arab neighbor, the threat it poses in combination with the rest
of the Arab world is already significant, and is certain to grow with time.
Despite its obvious strategic strengths, Israel has chronically suffered
from two Achilles' heels that make its defeat militarily thinkable. The
first is demographic.
Israel's minuscule population, combined with the sensitivity of Israeli
society to the loss of life, casts a giant shadow of doubt over the
country's ability to withstand an extended conventional war with the
surrounding Arab world. If its enemies could force upon it a conflict
lasting months or years, they would significantly improve their chances of
The Israeli response to this long-standing problem has been to accelerate
the moment of cease-fire by rapidly transferring the battleground to enemy
territory and/or attacking the enemy's infrastructure by means of air power.
Of much greater importance, however, is the second Achilles' heel, which is
geographic. The tiny area of the Jewish State, together with its
over-reliance on reserve forces (itself partly a product of the country's
demographic weakness), casts a giant shadow of doubt of another kind
altogether: namely, over its ability to withstand a lightning strike.
An enemy's penetration into the heart of Israel could prevent the
mobilization and equipment of its military reserves in addition to
interrupting many other
vital operations. To this second problem the traditional Israeli response
has been a very fast system of mobilization-since the 1973 Yom Kippur war,
the entire procedure has been designed to take no more than 24 hours-plus
the reliance on superior air power to abort an enemy's attack on the first
day of battle.
This is where Oslo comes in: the influx of Palestinian forces into Israel's
center has greatly exacerbated the problem presented by the country's
second Achilles' heel, to the extent that a total collapse of the overall
strategic balances now possible. How so? The approximately 40,000 policemen
now at the disposal of Arafat are already organized into a semi-military
structure. They are known to have some 30,000 automatic weapons in their
arsenal, along with a significant number of machine guns, light antitank
missiles, grenades and rocket-propelled grenades, land mines and
explosives. They may also have, or be able surreptitiously to obtain from
Arab countries, more advanced weapons, including handheld Strela and
Stinger surface-to-air missiles. Obviously, these forces are not going to
defeat the armed might of Israel in battle. But
if; even as currently constituted, they were to be deployed in a
coordinated fashion in the opening phases of a broader Arab assault, they
could wreak havoc of a decisive kind.
A good portion of the Palestinian police is installed in the towns of
Qalkilya, Tulkarem, Bethlehem, Ramallah, and Jenin on the West Bank-in
other words, in areas adjacent to Israel's most vulnerable sectors,
military and civilian alike.
These nerve centers of Israel's life could be successfully infiltrated by a
mere 10 percent of the Palestinian police force, thus transforming them
into a crucial front in a comprehensive regional conflagration.
Crossing Israel's 1967 borders in small fighting units of ten to twenty
men, these 4,000 men could make their way in civilian vehicles along a
labyrinthine network of roads and paths with which they are intimately
familiar. They would need no more than an hour to reach extremely sensitive
points in the heart of Israel.
Once there, they could wholly subvert the 24-hour mobilization strategy
Israel relies on to fend off the far larger armies of its Arab adversaries.
If Israel were still at the initial stages of an alert, the enormous
numbers of its as-yet-unarmed reservists streaming to arms depots and
mobilization points would form attractive prey. Gaining control of key
intersections or other advantageous locations, the Palestinian guerrilla
units would be in a position to create chaos on the roads that serve as the
primary arteries of mobilization and, in all probability, to kill large
numbers of would-be fighters. They could also attack some of the
themselves, most of which are not only within easy striking distance of the
West Bank but are also lightly guarded. The damage that can be inflicted by
small units operating against the vulnerabilities of a larger and more
powerful adversary is not a matter of speculation. Among the wealth of
cases that one could cite, some are from Israel's own military past.
During the 1982 war in Lebanon, for example, a few dozen young, untrained
Palestinian fighters armed with rocket-propelled grenades operating from
hills and orchards proved far more effective in delaying Israeli traffic on
a vital military highway than batteries of cannons and Katyusha rockets
launched from a distance. If mini-units of this kind can succeed against
heavily armored columns, how much more damage could they inflict on buses
and cars filled with unarmed reservists making their way to equipment depots?
Nor do key thoroughfares, intersections, and mobilization centers exhaust
the list of possible targets. In all its wars, Israel has depended heavily
on the ability of its air force to gain mastery of the skies at the outset.
But most Israeli air bases are quite exposed to guerrilla attack, being
located within 20 to 40 kilometers of Palestinian territory. British
commando operations in World War II are testimony to how easily an enemy
can penetrate such installations. Leading small teams of men, Colonel David
Starling of the Special Air Service successfully destroyed 250 German
warplanes parked on the runways of military airfields located many
kilometers behind Rommel's front lines on the North African front.
Palestinian soldiers need not actually penetrate air bases, as Starling
did, to achieve their goal. Lying hidden in the foliage of orchards or
farmlands outside an airfield's perimeter fence, they could employ light
mortars or handheld anti-tank or surface-to-air missiles to strike Israeli
planes. In previous conflicts, the Arabs have never been able to counter
Israel's superiority in the air; a surprise ground attack on its planes
would thus undoubtedly present an appealing option to Arab war planners.
Finally, targeting the military is not the only means by which a broad
series of Palestinian commando attacks could contribute to an effective
Arab assault. Terrorist raids on residential neighborhoods or the seizure
of national television and radio stations might serve to promote widespread
demoralization and civilian flight.
Another set of potential objectives consists of technical installations:
the electric power plant in Hadera, the oil refineries of Haifa, the
chemical tanks of Gelilot, or the switchboards, transformers, and
distribution boxes of the Bezek national telephone company. Power outages,
huge blazes near Israel's large cities, and temporary interruptions of
communication lines would all serve to paralyze if not cripple Israel in
the early phases of a war.
Are there no effective counters to the peril posed by the armed Palestinian
police? Of course there are, at least in theory. For example, Israel could
fortify its border with the Palestinian Authority in particularly
vulnerable sectors. It could also draw upon reserve soldiers on kibbutzim
to establish lightly armed, mobile patrol teams designed for immediate
intervention in any threatened locality. Alternatively, several thousand
infantry soldiers could be transferred from fighting units and assigned to
a light militia scattered at different points in the Israeli rear.
Whether such measures would work if put to the test is another question.
But that aside, there is, in fact, little evidence that Israel's military
or political planners are giving serious attention to this or any other
aspect of the ongoing transformation of the county's security position.
A number of factors are at work here. For one thing, Israeli military
officials, focusing on the extreme relative weakness of the Palestinian
forces and the fact that an operation involving dozens of separate
guerrilla units against Israel has never been attempted, simply discount
the possibility of a synchronized assault. For another, they appear to
believe that Israeli intelligence would definitely enjoy between 12 and 24
hours' warning in advance of any large-scale attack, an interval sufficient
to seal the
borders. And even if a limited incursion were to occur, they argue, attack
helicopters could provide sufficient defense for border areas.
These are all questionable assumptions. History seldom serves as a certain
guide to future behavior, and to rely inflexibly on precedents is to set
oneself up for a shock.
It is especially foolish to depend on fixed notions of warning time:
Israel's worst military fiasco occurred when it was caught unprepared by
the Egyptian attack in October 1973.
Besides, it is not inconceivable that a future Palestinian government, in
coordination with the major Arab states, would opt to invade with almost no
advance field preparations, in a kind of "get-in, go-shoot" operation
wherein commando teams would be dispatched into battle with only an hour or
two of notice. This would not only achieve the element of surprise but
likely increase the number of Palestinian saboteurs who could be
infiltrated. Finally, since these infiltrators would need to traverse but
a very short distance before being in a position to wreak major harm, and
since any battles that ensued would be taking place in heavily populated
areas, attack helicopters would be next to useless, if not calamitous, as a
means of response.
Perhaps the most dubious supposition of all, however, is one now being
bruited about in Israeli political circles. This is that the Palestinian
leadership would itself be reluctant to see a decisive Arab victory over
Israel, out of fear that the new Palestinian political entity would then
inevitably slip under the control of either Egypt or Syria, two military
giants with claims on Palestinian/Israeli territory. Since, in other words,
the Palestinians have a vested interest in Israel's survival, they would
not participate in any such operation. But this line of thinking is
speculative in the extreme, and the very fact that it is seriously on offer
suggests how eager many Israelis
have become to avoid facing the still very menacing realities of the Middle
East. One does not have to go far back into the past for an example of a
much greater degree of realism.
Here are the words of Shimon Peres in 1978:
"The influx of a Palestinian fighting force (more than 25,000 armed
fighters) into Judea and Samaria [would signify] . . . an excellent
starting point for mobile forces to advance immediately toward the
infrastructure vital to Israel's existence."
Even after he negotiated the Oslo accords, Peres did not alter his gloomy
estimation. As he argued in The New Middle East (1993), the situation
created by an armed Palestinian State would be strategically fraught with
catastrophe: the [country's] narrow "waist" will be susceptible to collapse
by a well-organized surprise attack.
Even if the Palestinians agree to demobilize their state from both army and
weapons, who can guarantee Israel that after a certain amount of time an
army will not be formed, despite the agreement, which will camp at the
gates of Jerusalem and the approaches of the coastal plain, and pose a
substantive threat to Israel's security? This, indeed, was the ground of
Peres's opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Yet what
was self-evident a mere six years ago to Israel's most determined advocate
of negotiations with the Palestinians is now being dismissed in the rush to
conclude the "peace process."
Almost 2,500 years ago, according to Thucydides, the Greek statesman
Themistocles succeeded in persuading his fellow Athenians to transform
their city-state into a naval power. Yet despite the vast strategic
superiority it thus acquired, Athens still remained vulnerable to a simple,
surprise ground attack from Sparta. In order to protect and ensure access
to its new strategic assets-that is, its advanced navy and port
facilities-Themistocles advocated linking the city of Athens to its port at
Piraeus by means of two parallel walls.
Like ancient Athens, Israel enjoys strategic superiority over its
neighbors, primarily in the realm of aeronautics and technology. Over the
decades, whenever armed hostilities have broken out, this advantage has
permitted Israel to strike at its enemies' rear in a manner that has
eventually led to victory at the front.
After 1967, Israel also enjoyed its own "walls of Themistocles," in the
form of the geographic expanses of Sinai, the Golan Heights, and the West
These double walls are what enabled Israel to survive the successful
surprise Egyptian-Syrian attack that opened the 1973 Yom Kippur war but
that was neither penetrating enough nor quick enough to take control of
Israel's "Piraeus"- its airports, its reserve bases, and the like.
The deployment of light Palestinian forces throughout the West Bank has
already collapsed Israel's eastern "wall" of mountains and the Jordan
River, neutralizing their vital function of protecting against a sudden
lightning strike aimed at the country's soft eastern flank. Indeed, if we
were to consult Themistocles, he would assuredly advise us that the current
Israeli defense posture is absurd. On the one hand, the state invests
billions of dollars in building a modem army; purchasing state-of-the-art
warplanes and constructing modern airfields; equipping and training reserve
battalions; and deploying Arrow missiles. All this is right and proper and
necessary. But on the other hand, it has permitted a situation to develop
in which these selfsame modern, expensive systems are liable to be rendered
On the basis of such wishful thinking, battles, and wars, are lost.
Yuval Steinitz, a new contributor is
a senior lecturer at Haifa University and the author of four
books in the fields of philosophy and the philosophy of science,
as well as numerous articles in Hebrew-language publications on
military strategic issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Formerly
an activist in the Peace Now movement, Mr. Steinitz now serves
as a member of Israel's parliament (Knesset) for the Likud party.
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Eye on Syria:
Timely Report on Developments
Vol. 1 No. 3
Prepared by Steve Rodan,
head of MENL, Middle East Newsline
Tuesday, 8th February, 2000
Our Top Stories
- Syria Expected to Become Missile Exporter
- Assad's New Man is His Son-in-law
- Syria Compares Israel to Nazis; Denies Holocaust
Syria Expected to Become Missile Exporter
Syria is building its arsenal with North Korean help and is expected to
eventually be an exporter of missiles, the CIA said.
In a report, the CIA said Syria and Iraq may soon emerge as suppliers of
missile-related technology. The CIA said that at first the two countries
will offer technology and equipment related to shorter-range ballistic
"But as their domestic infrastructures and expertise develop, they will
be able to offer a broader range of technologies that could include
longer-range missiles and related technology," the report said.
The report said that in addition to North Korea, China and Russia are
helping their clients develop missile arsenals. The report said a main
client is Iran, Syria's chief ally.
"Despite international efforts to curtail the flow of critical
technologies and equipment, Teheran continues to seek fissile material and
echnology for weapons development and has set up an elaborate system of
military and civilian organizations to support its effort."
Syria Remains on Ban of U.S. Computer Exports
Syria and other nations on the State Department list of terrorist
sponsors will continue to be banned from high-performance U.S. computers
used in military programs.
In a review that eases restrictions, the Clinton administration said it
will continue to ban advanced computer exports to Iraq, Iran, Libya, North
Korea, Cuba, Sudan, and Syria. Officials said the United States will
maintain a virtual embargo on computer exports.
The changes are part of an easing of U.S. export controls that will
make it easier to export advanced computers to countries in Latin America,
Asia, much of Africa and the former Soviet bloc. The changes were announced
on Feb. 1 as part of a six-month review.
Clinton plans to raise the licensing threshold for Tier 2 and Tier 3
countries. Tier 2 countries include Latin America, South Korea, the
Association of South East Asian Nations countries, Slovenia and most of
Africa. Tier 3 countries include India, Pakistan, all Middle East and North
African countries, the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam and Central
Clinton said that under proposed legislation Tier 3 nations will require
congressional review periods of only one month for future computer exports.
Currently, the review period is up to six months.
" I also will work with Congress to explore longer-term solutions to how
we control exports of items like computers and microprocessors when they
become widely available commodities," he said.
This is the fourth Clinton's fourth revision of U.S. export control
parameters since 1993 and are designed to increase computer and technology
exports. The new regulations will seek to control exports from 12,500 MTOPS
for most countries.
For Middle East and former Soviet republics, exports are permitted
without an individual license up to 6,500 MTOPS, and require individual
licenses for military end-uses and end-users above that figure. Exports
without an individual license are permitted for civil end-users between
6,500 MTOPS and 12,300 MTOPS, with exporter record keeping and reporting as
directed. Individual licenses are required for all end-users above 12,300
Saudis to Launch Effort to Persuade Syria on Peace
Saudi Arabia plans to launch an effort to persuade Syria to embark on
the final mile to achieve a peace treaty with Israel.
Arab diplomatic sources said the kingdom has acquiesced to appeals from
U.S. and European Union leaders and will discuss with Damascus Arab and Gulf
aid to Syria as part of any peace treaty with Israel. The sources said Riyad
has resisted making specific pledges but will likely commit to helping
develop Syria's economy.
The Saudi effort will formally begin in Riyad on Feb. 15 when Saudi
Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal meets Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk
A-Shaara. Saudi officials acknowledge that such a meeting has been scheduled
and will concern the negotiations between Syria and Israel.
The meeting will be held within the framework of a Syrian- Saudi
committee in which both foreign ministers will attend. Officials said the
Saudis agreed to discuss their role in any Syrian peace treaty with Israel
as long as the United States presses the Jewish state to acede to Syrian
demands for a full withdrawal from the Golan Heights, captured in the 1967
Israeli-Syrian negotiations have been suspended amid a demand by
Damascus for an Israeli commitment for a withdrawal to the June 4, 1967
lines. Israel first wants the negotiations to focus on security arrangements
Last month, a delegation of American Jewish leaders visited Riyad and
held talks with Saudi officials on the prospect of aiding Syria.
Arab diplomatic sources expect Syria to soon return to the negotiating
table as part of a U.S. compromise. They said both U.S. and EU leaders have
been urging Assad to seize the opportunity over the next few months to
conclude a peace agreement.
Last week, British House of Lord member Michael Levy met in Damascus
with A-Shaara and delivered a message for Assad from British Prime Minister
Tony Blair. Officials said Levy's visit was meant to provide a British role
in helping revive Israeli-Syrian peace talks.
A-Shaara also discussed the stalled peace talks Russian Foreign Minister
Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Later, A-Shaara
discussed the issue with the new Japanese ambassador in Damascus.
Syria Pledges Better Times After Peace
Syria might be refusing to negotiate peace with Israel. But Syrian
officials are already touting the benefits of any U.S.-arranged peace
Syrian officials are now telling their countrymen in the state media
that peace with Israel will result in an expanded economy that will ease
social strain. They are saying that peace will lead to more jobs and
Currently, Syria admits to an unemployment rate of eight percent. Labor
Minister Ali Khalil said this was an increase from the six percent
unemployment in 1994. In previous years, he said, unemployment was as high
as 8.4 percent.
Khalil said the current unemployment rate is too high for Syria. "But it
will be eventually decreased with the increase in stability in the region,"
he said on Feb. 2.
The minister blamed Israel for Syria's economic woes. He said Israel has
forced Syria to spend badly-needed funds on weapons.
But Khalil said after a peace treaty Syria would focus on developing
infrastructure and civilian projects. He said this will increase jobs and
maintain the currently low prices.
"Inflation did not eat the wages," he said.
Khalil listed other measures Syria is considering in the wake of a peace
treaty. This includes introducing new requirements for state companies to
ensure they operate on a profit basis, lifting export restrictions and
incentives for investment.
But Syrian officials are not promising immediate changes. They said the
country's huge public sector will not be cut because they don't want to
increase unemployment. He said about 200,000 Syrians join the labor force
Syria reportedly has 500,000 foreign workers, mostly from Sri Lanka,
Egypt and Somalia. About 1 million Syrians work in the Gulf and Arab
diplomatic sources said another 1 million are employed in Lebanon. Syrian
officials said the number in Lebanon is 225,000.
The public sector employs 25 percent of the labor force in Syria,
officials said. They said this does not include Syria's huge military.
Syria will probably not end its subsidies either, officials said. Khalil
said about $2 billion of the $5.1 billion state budget is designated for
subsidies of staples and basic services such as free education and medical
care as well as cheap transportation.
Hundreds Have Disappeared in Latest Syrian Arrests
Opposition sources and human rights groups said hundreds of people have
disappeared in the latest crackdown by Damascus against critics of Syrian
peace talks with Israel.
The London-based Amnesty International has expressed concern for the
safety of hundreds of political opponents arrested since Dec. 12. The group
said torture and ill-treatment are systematically used against political
detainees in Syria.
"The military intelligence and other branches of the Syrian security
forces have made the arrests in Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and other parts of
the country," Amnesty said. "Those arrested come from political or religious
groups which oppose the peace process with Israel and include large numbers
of members of Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brothers or Hizb al-Tahrir
as well as supporters of leftist groups. They are also said to include
former political detainees and people who are unaligned but who oppose the
The group said information about the arrests is extremely difficult to
obtain. Only recently have the names of a few of those arrested been made
public, Amnesty said.
Human rights groups said hundreds of people are in prison in Syria for
political reasons, some for many years without charge or trial. Others have
been brought to trial before the Supreme State Security Court where trials
fall far short of fair trial standards.
The Syrian Human Rights Committee said thousands of political detainees
have vanished as authorities simply deny their existence. The committee said
United Nations efforts to find them have failed.
Assad's New Man is His Son-in-law
President Hafez Assad has found himself a new strongman meant to ensure
that the aging leader's son becomes successor.
He is Assaf Chawkat, the president's son-in-law and head of military
intelligence and the first of a new generation of Syrians meant to ensure
stability in Damascus. Intelligence sources as well as some Arab diplomats
said Chawkat has been groomed to watch the back of Bashar Assad as he wages
the struggle to succeed his 69-year-old father.
The sources said Chawkat, 36, so far serves two purposes. First, he
ensures that the junior Assad will not have any rivals within the family.
Some members of the family, particularly younger brother Maher, were said to
have expressed skepticism regarding Bashar's chances to succeed his father.
"He is both a political and physical force and he is loyal to Bashar
Assad," a senior intelligence source said.
The second purpose is to prove to Syria's Alawite elite and the Baath
Party that Bashar can maintain stability under his leadership. The sources
said Chawkat will be the first of several military strongmen with whom the
junior Assad will form alliances. They said the 34-year-old optometrist will
eventually surround himself with a coterie of hatchet man who will ensure
loyalty in all military and security services.
Later this year, the president is expected to submit Bashar as a
candidate for a leadership position.
Intelligence sources said the emergence of Chawkat has dampened
criticism of Bashar within the Assad family. In November, Chawkat was sent
to a French hospital for a bullet wound that sources said was sustained
during a fight with Maher.
The sources, however, said the dispute did not diminish Chawkat's
authority. If anything, they said, the elderly Assad cracked down on
dissidents within the family who opposed Chawkat or Bashar.
"Chawkat is very unimpressive, to say the least," a U.S. intelligence
source who closely follows Syria said. "But right now, he is all Assad has."
A key role of Chawkat, the sources said, is to ensure that Bashar will
be allowed to continue the grooming process. The sources said the elderly
Assad is slowly but steadily preparing Bashar's skills in both diplomacy and
But the process has been slow. The sources said Bashar did poorly in his
meetings in November in Paris with French President Jacques Chirac and the
president does not want this repeated in any visit expected in Teheran.
"Bashar is coming to Teheran as a student not as an equal," the
intelligence source. "So, for Assad, there's no hurry. The president has
other ways to inform Iran about the peace process."
Syria, Lebanon Rejoice Over Hizbullah Attack on Israel
Syria and Lebanon have expressed satisfaction with the Jan. 31 Hizbullah
attack on Israeli troops in which three soldiers were killed and raised the
prospect of massive retaliation.
Lebanese President Emile Lahoud told the Beirut-based daily A-Safir on
Feb. 1 that the attack was worthy of praise and was necessary to expel
Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. Lahoud said Hizbullah was shedding
blood to ensure the liberation of Lebanese territory.
"There is no alternative to the liberation of Lebanon even though these
activities are an exception to the political game," Lahoud said.
Other Lebanese ministers were quoted as also expressing
praise for Hizbullah while raising the prospect of Israeli retaliation.
State-run Damascus radio did not directly praise the attack. But it
quoted Lebanese ministers as doing so. The Syrian Al Baath daily blamed
Israel for the attack and called for a full withdrawal from southern Lebanon
and the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
The newspaper said Israel is leading to repeated deteriorations in the
area and said the Jewish state can not rely on force. Tishrin echoed the
Syria Asks Russia for Multilateral Update
Syria has asked Russia for a briefing on the multilateral
talks taking place in Moscow and boycotted by Damascus.
The London-based Al Hayat daily on Feb. 1 quoted Russian diplomats as
saying that the regime of President Hafez Assad has requested that a Russian
envoy be sent to Damascus to brief the Syrians on the multilateral talks.
The newspaper said this marks the first break in Syria's refusal to
participate in any regional cooperation talks that involve Israel.
Russia has not objected to the Syrian request.
Representatives of 40 countries are in Moscow and on Feb 1, a steering
committee met to set dates for five working groups to deal with regional
economic development, environment, Palestinian refugees, water and security.
The arms control committee is not expected to convene.
Syria and Lebanon are boycotting the conference. The talks are being
attended by the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi
Arabia -- representing the Gulf states -- and Tunisia representing North
Africa, Canada, Japan,
Norway and Switzerland.
Four working committees were established for the continuation of talks
in the coming months.Water issues will be discussed in Oman, the environment
in Tunisia, refugees in Canada and economic issues in Morocco.
Syria Compares Israel to Nazis; Denies Holocaust
Syria launched a bitter media attack against Israel comparing the Jewish
state to Nazi Germany.
The Syrian government daily Tishrin said on Jan. 31 Israel has committed
crimes against the Arabs that were no less grave than that of the killing of six
million Jews by the Nazis during World War II. Tishrin, however, questioned
whether the Holocaust actually took place and said Israel has tried to stop
those who doubted the Nazi extermination.
"Zionism is erasing from human memory 50 million Nazi victims and
concentrating on the suffering of Jews, although historical facts prove that
Zionist leaders then collaborated with the Nazis for the Jewish problem to
get worse," Tishreen editor Mohamed Kheir Wadi said. "Zionism hides these
dark pages of its history, blackens them completely, and invents stories
about the Holocaust and exaggerates it to astronomical levels."
"Israel, which is presenting itself as heir to the victims of the
Holocaust, committed and keeps on committing against the Arabs crimes that
are uglier that the ones committed by the old Nazis," the newspaper
continued. "The Nazis, for example, did not drive out a whole nation from
their homeland and did not bury people alive, which is what the Zionists
The attack by the Syrian newspaper was the harshest against Israel since
the two countries resumed peace negotiations in December. Over the past few
weeks, however, Syrian media attacks have grown harsher as the suspension of
the negotiations continued.
"Why does Israel insist on bringing up this alleged Holocaust policy?"
the newspaper said. "I believe Israel and the Zionist organizations have two
aims. The first is to receive more money from Germany and other Western
establishments on the pretext of compensation for the Holocaust. The second
aim is to invest the myth of the Holocaust and accuse anyone opposed to her
Jewish lies about the Holocaust in the face of credible voices questioning
it, including that of the controversial British historian David Irving."
Holocaust denial, however, has been a familiar theme in the Syrian
media. It is also repeated in the Arab and Iranian press.
Israel quickly responded to the report. Social and Diaspora Affairs
Minister Michael Melchior expressed his revulsion over the article.
"It is not possible to show restraint over these unbridled statements
which deny the Holocaust and compare Israel to the Nazis," he said. "The
Syrians know no bounds in anti-Israel incitement, both morally and
diplomatically. This makes continued dialogue with them more difficult."
Melchior called on Syria's leaders to disavow the article in the
government newspaper "and to change their style, which only makes peace and
normalization between Israel and Syria more difficult."
Likud parliamentarian has called for Israel to end peace talks with
Earlier, the weekly of the Syrian Arab Writers Association said Damascus
will obtain the Golan Heights by force and must reject U.S. or Western aid,
which will be meant to prevent Syria from restoring its military. Ali Orsan,
the chairman, wrote in the association's weekly, Al-Usbu Al Adabi that Syria
would face a disaster if it recognizes the Jewish state.
The writer asked whether the agreement with Israel would prevent Syria
from joining the next war against the Jewish state.
Syria, Sudan Sign Counterterrorism Accords
Syria and Sudan have signed several cooperation accords.
The two nations signed agreements to cooperate in the areas of
counterterrorism, criminal investigations and drug-trafficking. Syria and
Sudan are on the list of U.S. State Department sponsors of terrorism.
The memorandums were signed by Syrian Interior Minister Muhammad Harba
and his Sudanese counterpart, Abdul Rahim Muhammad Hussein. In the accords,
the two countries distinguish between terrorism and the struggle for
Officials said the cooperation and exchange of experts will be
conducted with Arab agreements on counterterrorism. The accords also called
for coordination on bilateral and regional issues, particularly during
international and security regional conferences.
For Sudan, the agreement was another achievement in its efforts to break
Khartoum's international isolation. Sudan has launched a campaign to
increase its diplomatic and economic relations since the ousting of
parliamentary leader Hassan Turabi, the leading of the Islamic
Sudanese President Omar Bashir is also trying to organize a
reconciliation conference with his opposition. The effort is being supported
by neighboring Egypt and Libya.
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