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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Mid-East conflict: Was Israeli raid justified?
A child is carried into an ambulance after the Haifa blast
The United States has called for restraint from all sides in the Middle East following Israel's raid against what it says was a Palestinian terrorist training camp on Syrian territory.

The raid came a day after a suicide bombing in the northern Israeli city of Haifa that killed 19 and injured many more.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has accused Israel of warmongering and wants the UN to pass a resolution condemning Israel's attack on its territory.

Was the Israeli raid justified ? Does it spell an end to US-backed efforts for peace known as the roadmap ?

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

Your reaction:

If the US, Israel, and the other participants in the "War on Terror" want approval from the world, they need to disclose the evidence they have against their enemies. That being said, it is about time that the US stopped asking the world to support its war on terrorism while chastising Israel for fighting its own. Israel is fighting for survival. Its enemies do not just want territory back (territory they lost when they attacked Israel first). They will never rest until Israel is destroyed. There should be US and coalition troops standing beside our allies in Israel, assisting in their defence and ensuring that Israel's conduct remains noble in these times when its rage is tempted.
Jason, USA

It is just the opening moves. Israel on one side, the US on the other. Syria is the next target for "regime change" followed by Iran. Meanwhile, the US administration continues its power grab at home, which will allow it an appearance of legality as it pursues its quest for regional domination. Also, calling suicide bombings terrorist acts is a misnomer. While they are reprehensible, in my view, the Palestinians are being occupied by a foreign power. I assume they would prefer to use precision munitions, but are willing to use rocks if necessary.
Robert, USA

Until the West behaves in a civilised fashion and condemns these terrorists, nothing will change
John R Smith, UK
People keep referring to the Israel government's "hard line" approach. Who walks into cafes and murders whole families - not the Israeli government. Until the West behaves in a civilised fashion and condemns these terrorists, nothing will change. These murderous thugs believe that if they carry on killing defenceless people for long enough, eventually the protests from the West will bring Israel down. Nothing more useful could happen now than for every elected politician in Europe to utterly condemn the bombers and to refuse to deal with the Palestinians until they are removed from the political scene in the Middle East.
John R Smith, UK

What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. Israel has attacked Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at one time or another. Does that give those countries the right to attack Israel based on the fact that Israel has weapons of mass destruction and may use those weapons against them in the future? Does the doctrine of pre-emptive attack apply to everyone, or just those with the power to carry it out?
James, USA

Arab countries will seldom raise their protests when one of their dictators murder thousands of their citizens. May Israel remain steadfast against terrorists who kill civilians. The Jewish people are resolute that they will not be made scapegoats .The Palestinian problem is really an Arab problem that they do not want to resolve because it is not in their interest. Any land that Israel gives to Palestinians should be looked upon as a bold move to win the peace.
Samuel Solomon, Australia

Yes. The US is very right this time. Apparently it should not be the US alone, all sober nations and people should demand not only restraint but a complete different approach to the Middle-East conflict. Ever since I began to understand things (and I am not a very young person at all) all I have heard and read about the region is innocent lives being lost on both sides of the divide. The incessant bloodletting has not and I am quite sure that it will never yield any positive result in this conflict. Both Israel and the entire Arab world should seriously consider other more sensible options to solve this problem once for all.
B.M.Zikapanda, Malawi

All those supporting Israel right to attack and defend themselves should first visit Palestinian areas and see what causes people to blow themselves up. Do not judge from your armchairs and computers. See the people living without hope and desperate due to Israel's policy and then make comments on who is justified.
Mansur Hakimi, Kenya

Israel will retaliate each and every time that Palestinians murder a bus-load of civilians
Eric Girard, USA
You think this is about Oil? If the US wanted oil or to control the region, it would have gone to Baghdad in the first war. Don't disillusion yourself; there is no force in the Middle East that could last more than a couple months in full retreat against the US if she actually wanted the region. Face it, Israel will retaliate each and every time that Palestinians murder a bus-load of civilians on the way to work. The pattern is simple: 1) Homicide bomber 2) Israeli retaliation.
Eric Girard, USA

There is only one democracy in the Middle East, one country with the right to vote, equality for women, freedom of religion, etc; Israel. Yet once again, the international community and the Europeans run to defend the terrorist dictatorships they depend on for oil, trade, and political capital. If Israelis have learned anything, it's that we can never depend on the international community which has been trying to destroy Israel for 50 years. Shame on the Europeans, who in their naive views, enable terror and bring another tragedy on the Jewish people.
James, India

The American led invasion of Iraq was carried out to turn attention away from the reform failures in Afghanistan. Similarly, Israel carried out the air raids on Syria to distract people's attention from Iraq. No wonder USA backs Israel. Attacking a sovereign state without any prior mediation is totally unacceptable and has to be heavily sanctioned.
Ms. Sumaiyah Afrin, Kuwait

I'd like to see some evidence that it was a terrorist camp. Is it really enough that a government points at something, shouts "Terrorists!" and automatically every action that follows is justified?
Wolfram, Germany

Good for Israel! It shows that one of the great intelligence in the world is still working. I salute to my beautiful country. I just wish people will start reading pages from the news or from the history before attacking Israel for not supporting the pa, Israel gives more than half of the money I pay tax for to the pa, even in these horrible days, so the Arabs we'll have food, medicine etc, ironically Arafat brings it to us back, as a bomb.
Hila, Israel

Israel are only protecting their people
Barry Scott, UK
Young children killed by mad people. Well, did anyone condemn these so called people fighting to allow the Palestinians to live in a land, that is not theirs by right and because the rest of the Arab world will not help except train the young people to kill children? Of course Syria allows the Islamic Jihad to train in there country, what about Iraq? They haven't got the guts to own up and say we are training these mad men. There will be Peace in the Middle East when? Maybe when People like Mr Arafat is no longer in control. Israel are only protecting their people, that is why the US and the UK went in to Iraq. To take out the evil and help the people of that land.
Barry Scott, UK

Most of the time when there is a suicide bomb or other terrorist act in Israel we hear the spokesmen of the Islamic Jihad from Damascus that get the responsibility and promise us more such action. Is anybody to expect that we shall wait for the next terrorist act with no action?
Israel Greenfield, Israel

Before visiting The 'Holy" Land my prejudice was for Israel. When I saw at first hand what Israel did to the Palestinians changed my mind. No the attack on Syria is wrong. As Bush supports Israel we should pull out of the mess an Iraq and join France Germany and Russia in protest. I begin to wonder just what makes up the axis of evil.
Paul Weaver, UK

To all of you who are defending Israel. You seem to take it for granted that Israel really attacked a Jihad training camp. First of all both Syria and Jihad have denied that, and some French journalists have been there and took some pictures of the site. It doesn't look as a training camp at all! Second, do you think that the suicide bomber was trained in Syria? Do you really think they need such training? I don't think they need any training nor encouragement from other countries, Israel's politic and the miserable life they live are enough encouragement of such desperate acts!
Janne, Sweden

Israel are just starting something which could turn in to a blood bath
Jo Edwards, UK
No it was NOT justified. Israel are just starting something which could turn in to a blood bath. Israel to me does not want peace, but wants support from the one country which they have a hold over, The USA.
Jo Edwards, UK

I wonder if the likes of Jo Edwards (UK) and Janne from Sweden would feel differently if it was their kids and loved ones, who were blown to bits in Haifa. It is all very well for the rest of the world, who are living safely, without fear of brain washed suicide bombers, knocking on their door, to give such one-sided and misguided facts. I am happy for you that at least you have the comfort and security of sleeping well at night! This is considered to be a luxury in Israel.
Helen, Irish living in Israel

In theory the right to self defence is never denied. I am glad that Israel is attempting to defend herself, while the rest of the world forsakes her.
Sgt Barton, Canada

How can that be justified? So if Canada feels threatened by the US we can just fly in and bomb random targets because it suits our leader - this is pure lunacy. This world will finally end up with a new World War, thanks to little kids turned president, aka Bush and Sharon.
Stefan, Canada

Vox populi - Vox dei is as big a falsehood as they come. But those who accuse Israel of a great variety of misdeeds should at least get their supposed facts right, that which in their haste to bash my country they hardly ever bother to do.
Elisha Gans, Israel

If a country can be justified to take revenge then what is wrong for the lady who took revenge for her brother's death? Violence begets violence and at times like this we expect the civilized countries to act reasonably. Gross human violations are going out in the Middle East and it is time for the rest of the world to get engaged in disengaging both the sides.
Wash, Canada

I think it is Israel's hard-line approach which has caused the escalation in violence
David Hazel, UK
I think it is Israel's hard-line approach which has caused the escalation in violence in the Middle East. Whilst the people of Israel can no doubt be persuaded that this blood-lust is justified, in reality all it is doing is pandering to the extremists on both sides. Hard-line Palestinians know they can stop any peace process in its tracks simply by sending in a couple of suicide bombers. Israel's response is both predictable and guaranteed to halt any process which would lose the extremists their influence. It is a self-serving, vicious circle, in which the victims are ordinary people on both sides.
David Hazel, UK

Israel is the only nation that has breached the sovereignty of states and respect for human religion and life under the notion of self defence. I wonder if the UK or US imposed economic sanctions on Israel or reduced it's funding in order to comply, whether Israel would attack the UK or US and justify it as self defence. Self defence has been used by Israel to invade countries and states in clear violation of international law. When the tables turn I am sure other nations will extend to Israel the same international law respect they have shown the rest of the world.
James, UK

The US roadmap to peace was nothing more than a feeble attempt to pacify the Arabs/Palestinians and make it appear as though its intentions were righteous and noble - all the while an ulterior motive that the US and Israel concocted long ago is starting to take shape in the Middle East... they both want complete control of the entire region... how long will it take for the rest of the conscious world stand up to these pair of brutal regimes?
Stacy Avery, Canada

It is about time that the world looks at the terrorists supporters and takes positive steps to eradicate them
A Davidson, England
Israel is fully justified in its actions. No peace lover in the region can tolerate indefinitely a Syrian presence in Southern Lebanon which encourages constant provocation against Israel, despite the latter withdrawing from the contested zone. It is about time that the world looks at the terrorists supporters and takes positive steps to eradicate them. Without this action there will never ever be stability in the region.
A Davidson, England.

It is incredibly na´ve to hold Syria accountable for attacks that take place in Israel. Israel is responsible for the attacks that take place in Israel. The reason those attacks take place have nothing to do with Syrian support, and everything to do with the daily subjection of the Palestinian people to oppression, injustice and occupation of their land at the hands of the Israelis. There is a proverb in Arabic that says, to the effect, "He hit me and cried; he raced me to complain". The Israelis seem to have perfected the art of initiating violence then complaining that they were the victims.
Nahla, Syrian in UAE

Palestinian terrorists purposefully went after women, children, and other unarmed civilians while Israelis fought against armed male soldiers. Yet, as this question shows, the Palestinian terror groups are not demonized for their cowardly tactics while Israelis are demonized for defending themselves in battle.
Inna Tysoe, California, USA

The strikes into Syrian territory is a sign of desperate measures on the part of Israel
Vinay Chitnis, Poona, India
The strikes into Syrian territory is a sign of desperate measures on the part of Israel. Sharon, with his inability to contain the terrorist attacks despite the security wall around Haifa, is desperate to show that he is in control and able to provide the much needed and illusive peace to the Israelis. And the US cannot do anything to preach and restrain Israel since Israel is just following the US logic of "pre-emptive" strikes against terrorists. The situation is now really grim.
Vinay Chitnis, Poona, India

If Syria, as it claims, was not training terrorists in the camps Damascus it should table the Resolution. The very fact that it is "considering" this Resolution now that Israel has shown photos of a training camp filled with people eager to go after Israelis, as well as you and me, tells me that this raid saved Israeli lives and quite possibly American and British lives as well. Yes, the raid was justified.
Anon, UK

Apart from the discussion on right or wrong I am deeply worried by the obvious exhilaration and lack of reasoning in Israeli politics. There is too much "resilience" and too little "peace". Moreover, for the first time Israeli diplomats used the language of power and religion to justify their action. I personally don't like that particular combination. It reminds me of the sad past.
Vihar Georgiev, Bulgaria

It was probably more justified than the recent "war" in Iraq.
Ian, Brit in USA

America the bogeyman to peace in the Middle East. Unless the US is willing to be even handed then there will never be peace in the Middle East. It is time that the US realise their true responsibilities in the Arab world. Is there any wonder why the Arabs feel as they do about America?
Roland Brade, Herne Bay, England

The raid was absolutely justified. Syria has a long history of supporting terrorism and violence towards Israel. There is no justification for the murder of Israeli citizens for any political reasons. Israel has a right to protect itself and pre-emptively prevent further attacks on its citizens.
Drew, usa

The Israelis have, as usual, shown remarkable restraint. No one dead, minimal injuries. They are giving a clear, deserved message. Stop supporting terrorists.
Jeremy, England

Should the Israeli army turn always the other cheek in front of another bloodbath? We all ready to condemn Israeli offensive, but what about suicide bombing? Why doesn't Arafat stop to support terrorists and expel them from Palestine instead to claim justice in the UN? I agree that Israel has the right to defend itself. What happened is a clear demonstration that Israel wants to hit terrorists every time and everywhere.
Fabry, Turin, Italy

Once again Israel has flaunted its disrespect for a global society. As much as the Palestinian Authority is responsible for reigning in terrorists, Israel is responsible for inspiring them. This raid has as much justification as the horrific suicide bombings. It is all engineered to derail the simple and objective path to peace. As innocents suffer and die on both sides of the blurred green line, we Americans blindly (and helplessly) finance Israel's aggression and Hamas' inspiration. The United States needs to stop the one-sided funding so as to inspire peace.
Moin Haque, USA

Depends from whose point of view you are looking at this issue from the Israeli and American point of view Israel was justified. From the majority of European, international and humanitarian point of view any form of terrorism/aggression no matter by what name you call it is never justified.
Mike Larian, USA

This is an unfortunate, but predictable extrapolation of the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive military strikes within the boundaries of sovereign foreign nations. The leaders of my country set this precedent against the wishes of many of our citizens, and now the world will pay the price for Washington's brash disregard for international law.
Matthew, USA

The current peace process was doomed to failure from the beginning
Josh, USA
Of course the raid was justified. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack in Haifa and Israel bombed their camp in Syria. Was it productive? I think not. A few terrorists were wounded in the air strike and the Arab world and their sympathizers in Europe have been given a new Israeli act of aggression to bemoan. The current peace process was doomed to failure from the beginning because the expectation was that the Palestinians and Israelis would be able to hammer out their differences. It will never happen. The only solution to this problem will be for the US, with UN backing, to impose clear, fortified borders between the two sides and forcibly relocate any isolated Israeli settlements.
Josh, USA

How come everyone has overlooked the fact that Israel illegally occupies part of Syria, where they have left Arabs who used be teachers as street cleaners, would Americans mind if Russia occupied part of New York, and then bombed them for being hostile? I put to David (England), Palestinians killing Israelis is monotonous, but Israelis killing three Palestinians for every one on theirs, and now bombing Syria as well as the Lebanon (which it does frequently) is justified? You need to meet Palestinians and see for yourself how they have been evicted from their homeland and how those who remained have been enslaved for a generation.
Ahmad Alam, UK

I am disgusted by the comments from the likes of Simon and Mireille. Like any nation, Israel has the right to defend itself. The Palestinians also have a right to defend themselves. There is a peace initiative in process. However, one must ask whether the Palestinians have any intentions to make peace while they are being sponsored to perform these monstrous acts. This is not the way of Islam: it is the way of those that have the power to pervert their authority in the name of Islam. Peace can only be achieved when the Palestinians, and involved Arab countries, take appropriate action to police their own.
David, England

Israel has simply escalated the conflict by adding new players
Jonathan, UK
Israel has simply escalated the conflict by adding new players. The US is doing itself no favours in the Middle East by not condemning Israel in this instance. Perhaps Israel and the USA should try a new weapon - effective diplomacy - instead of bombs and bullets.
Jonathan, UK

The peace plan has as little chance as any UN resolution. If the US were as keen on enforcing other UN resolutions as energetically as those on Iraq, the problem would long since have been solved. The ordinary citizen in the Middle East doesn't need resolutions or plans, they need the world community to enforce a workable peace.
Paul, Germany

Israel must know that terrorism isn't a zero sum game, and that every person that they kill produces two more that hate and want to destroy them. But they don't know how to fix that, so their leadership performed a short term PR exercise, the consequences of which will have to be dealt with by their successors. Thus is the status quo preserved, not by bold long term initiatives, but by petty minded electioneering by politicians that can't see past the next election. At times like this, dictatorship seem like a viable alternative. At least when you're an absolute monarch, you don't have to sell out your children's future just to boost your approval ratings.
Colin MacDonald, Scotland

For Syria, a nation which killed thousands of its own citizens at Hama, and which has occupied Lebanon for decades and which has brutally suppressed its own people, to cry foul is the height of " newspeak!" The tragedy in Haifa where a restaurant jointly owned by Arabs and Jews was bombed with four Arab Israelis dying is a travesty. Is this the vision of a bi-national state so loudly championed by Arafat et al? By the way, since he was democratically elected, when does his term end?
Jonathan, Canada

Jonathan Canada, as a fellow Canadian I'm rather ashamed of your remark on Syria occupying Lebanon - there hasn't been Syrian militia in Lebanon for going on 20 years. However, Israel still illegally occupies territory.
Lynn, USA

This will force Syria to tackle its own problems within
Chris, Germany
Israel is wholly justified. Syria has much to answer for, and always hides behind the Arab league, yet another talking shop. When Palestinians stop these suicide bombers which kill children, babies and innocent women, then Israel attacks cannot be justified. This will force Syria to tackle its own problems within, openly or not.
Chris, Germany

100% Justified. In my view, Syria is one of the chief sponsors of anti-Israel terror and it should know that it can be attacked if it continues to finance the thugs. Fear is the only real deterrent for the criminal regimes
Sergey Semenov, USA

Everyone seems to be saying they either have the right to self defence, or they committed yet another heinous act of state terrorism. Why isn't anyone questioning why a 29 year old lawyer, would strap Semtex to her waist and blow herself to pieces in a mindless act of violence? The despair the Palestinians must feel to go to such horrific lengths just cannot be imagined.
Chris, UK

Yes they were. I cannot see any other country in the world acting in any other way under the same scenario. In fact if the suicide bombs where in Russia or America the response would be far more proactive. France Can protest but their response in 1954 to terrorist attacks on their soldiers in Vietnam was hardly restrained. I genuinely feel happy when terrorist camps are blown up. It should be considered a victory for people who do not believe in deliberately covertly attacking civilian targets.
Russ, UK

This is disgusting. Israelis are acting as if they have carte blanche to do whatever they like, whenever they like, to whoever they like. There military aggression is going unchecked - by Anyone. Is nobody going to stand up to them and say enough is enough? This constant circle of hate, murder, revenge has to end. Its no more than a holy war and we criticise the Muslims for believing in Jihad. Some of the worst crimes in the world have been committed in the name of religion...
Simon, UK

I agree with Simon,UK,itis absolutely disgusting what the Israelis are doing ,but what is more disgusting and deplorable is that the US allows them to get away with actions that clearly violate intenational law.Violence should not be tolerated from both sides, but there is a solution that Israel refuses to see.Stop the acceleration of illegal settlements, abide to the 1967 borders and the Middle East has a good chance of achieving and maintaining peace.
Melina Pavlakou, Greece

Israel has only exercised its right to defend itself by attacking a terrorist training base inside Syrian territory. Syria and Iran are rogue nations and they have always given encouragement to Islamic terrorists bent upon destroying Israel and the United States. Israel must act decisively and either eliminate or expel Arafat immediately to stop these barbaric terrorist attacks on its innocent civilians.
Jatin, India

Israel, as always, is getting away with murder. It comes handy to label any Palestinian they murder as a terrorist. Now they are bombing another nation, pretending that it is harbouring terrorists, showing as proof some pathetic pictures of what they claim to be a training camp in Syria. This US administration has invented the "pre-emptive" strike concept using false pretexts, as it was later shown, and the Israelis are using it to the best of their abilities.
Ismail El Alfy, Egypt

Israel has the right to protect itself against terrorists within and without its borders. If Syria thinks they can live by double standards they are mistaken. They have been encouraging and supporting terrorism in their country for years. Aaron, Toronto

Israel needs to make a decision: fight this conflict all out, or settle now
Greg Amer, USA
After three of four strikes the Syrians will finally realize Israel's commitment to protect its citizens and Syria will disarm the terrorist groups. The Arabs only respect a harsh Israeli policy. Imaging the IRA having training camps in Ireland. Would Britain accept that?
Morten Krogh Jensen, Denmark

Syria and the BBC need to stop propping up these terrorist groups if they are really interested in peace. Arab countries support and use terror groups as a proxy pan-Arab army against Israel, and she has every right to retaliate.
Tara, USA

Aren't we getting tired of this talk of retaliation, revenge, hate, killing and the one-sided view from both sides that we are the only victims here?
Joao de Valencia, Portugal
Wake up! Israel's actions can't widen the conflict. The presence of terrorist training camps in Syria, indicates that the breadth of the conflict already encompasses Syria. I'm baffled and frustrated at the constant outcry against Israel attacks on terrorist targets. Why are people so reluctant to take the war to the enemy? Israel needs to make a decision: fight this conflict all out, or settle now.
Greg Amer, USA

There is something evil going on in the Middle East. The United States wants to control that region and its wealth. The government of Israel wants to eliminate the Palestinians so they can take their land, and the whole world is standing aside letting the Middle East goes up in flames. This is criminal. This is genocide. There will never be peace.
Mireille Leonard, USA

Will the conflict widen? Of course it will, because that is exactly what the US and Israel really want, so they can control the region, its oil and its politics
Colin, UK
The bombing can't spell the end of a peace process that isn't. If the Arabs want to stop Israeli activities on land they claim, all they have to do is put an end to murder and mayhem against civilians. That would call Sharon's bluff and the Americans would pressure Tel Aviv to make concessions.
Guido Schlesinger, USA

Aren't we getting tired of this talk of retaliation, revenge, hate, killing and the one-sided view from both sides that we are the only victims here? Come on stop this mad circle of violence. Create some new tracks of future for all sides in this conflict.
Joao de Valencia, Portugal

Israel has the right to defend itself. These despotic regimes of Egypt and Syria have for long held the nations of Lebanon, Israel and Palestine hostage to meet there own political ends and to distract attention from internal reforms.
Salman Raza, Pakistan

This has to be the time the UN, and especially European countries, takes a stance and enforces UN resolutions against Israel. If Bush and Blair are going to be consistent, then bombing of Tel Aviv and the various Israeli sources of WMD should tonight. It won't happen, of course. The state terrorism of Israel has to be stopped if the international community intends to stop these extremist fundamentalists.
David, Italy

Israeli implemented, USA backed.
Citizen, USA

Will the conflict widen? Of course it will, because that is exactly what the US and Israel really want, so they can control the region, its oil and its politics. The "roadmap" was never more than a half-hearted attempt by the US to seem like they are not completely biased towards Israel. The US and Israel seem to be trying to start another Yom Kippur war, or maybe just a new Cold War.
Colin, UK

I believe that a country has the right to defend itself, however Israel cannot simply attack which ever country it chooses based upon an accusation. Israel should use the arsenal of diplomacy and conduct its defence through the UN negotiating table to bring about a peaceful solution which will not sacrifice anymore Arab or Israeli lives
Lawrence Putt, England

The conflict has included other countries for 50 years. Syria is a terrorist country that harbours and supports groups that commit the horrible attacks we see in Haifa. When you support groups that carry out these attacks, the world should hold you accountable. Of course, the world will not... so Israel must act.
Irwin, USA

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




Israel to expand security barrier
01 Oct 03  |  Middle East


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