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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Horror pervades Israeli press

Israeli newspapers reflect the country's horror at the two suicide attacks which took at least 14 lives on Tuesday, and foreboding over the possibility of ever achieving peace with the Palestinians.

Together with the numerous threats of retaliation comes a tale of personal tragedy and an attack on organisations like Amnesty International for perceived bias.

But one commentator accuses Israel of inviting the attacks through its own attempt last weekend to kill a Hamas leader.

"We will crush them," is the stark headline in a number of dailies, including Maariv and Yediot Aharonot, which quote senior Israeli officials.

Maariv has one official warning of "an operation the like of which has never been seen before".

A headline in Haaretz reveals: "There is no change in the prime minister's position - efforts to kill terror leaders will continue."

Haaretz publishes a public opinion poll - conducted the day before Tuesday's suicide attacks - showing the majority of Israelis in favour of continuing attacks on Hamas leaders.

The latest terrorist wave has cancelled the opportunity of renewing any political process
Yediot Aharonot

Yediot Aharonot commentator Alex Fishman believes the latest suicide attacks will "hasten the end of the chapter in the history book entitled the 'Palestinian Authority'".

"All the moulds have been broken. These two terrorist attacks take Israel closer to the hour of decision on Arafat's future... The latest terrorist wave has cancelled the opportunity, if there was one, of renewing any political process."

A report in Yediot tells the sad tale of a bride-to-be and her father killed in one of the bombings while attending her hen party at a cafe the day before her wedding.

Maariv commentator Ben Kaspit argues that whoever planned the weekend attack on the Hamas leader "knew that a terrorist response was bound to happen. The question was what form would it take and how painful would it be."

To a large extent, Israel initiated the current cycle of violence
Maariv commentator

"Another chapter in the bloody game raging between Israel and Hamas has been inscribed on the road between Ramla and Bet Dagan and on the pavement near the Hillel Cafe. The question is who will blink last."

'Israel to blame'

Writing in the same paper, Amir Rapaport accuses Israel of initiating the attacks.

"To a large extent, Israel initiated the current cycle of violence. Yesterday's terrorist attacks are a reaction to the liquidations Israel carried out and mainly to the failed attempt to liquidate the Hamas leader on Saturday.

"Israel will continue the hunt for Hamas leaders and the terrorist organisations will continue the terrorist attacks. This will doubtless last many months and exact rivers of blood along the way," Mr Rapaport concludes.

An editorial in Jerusalem Post attacks "NGOs such as Amnesty [International]", accusing them of having "hijacked the sacred cause of human rights and distorted it beyond recognition where the ultimate human right the right to life is given short shrift if those lives happen to be Israeli".

"The NGO community will only regain credibility when it is no longer a vehicle for justifying terrorism and other basic human right abuses, and when the Israeli victims will no longer be nameless and faceless."

Arafat has unsurpassed stature in Palestinian society. Since Arafat's strength is sustained by his opposition to Israel, his exile would only fortify his position
Haaretz commentator

Arafat dilemma

Maariv reports that an unnamed African country has offered to grant political asylum to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but Israel rejected the offer.

It also reports that high-ranking Egyptian officials offered during meetings with Israeli officials to "build Arafat a beautiful white villa on a beach".

But a commentary in Haaretz by Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky warns of the dangers of exiling the Palestinian leader.

"We must face the simple truth: Arafat has unsurpassed stature in Palestinian society. Palestinians view him as a national hero. And since Arafat's strength is sustained by his opposition to Israel, his exile would only fortify his position."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

Israel and the Palestinians



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