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Last Updated: Monday, 15 March, 2004, 15:19 GMT
Press doubts after suicide attacks
Israeli press graphic

Leading dailies in Israel express doubts about a number of plans to combat suicide attacks in the wake of the latest attacks in the southern port of Ashdod on Sunday in which 10 people died.

The Israeli Government is currently building a separation barrier in an attempt to stop suicide bombings and plans have also been mooted to withdraw all Israeli soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip, known as the disengagement plan.

Can Israel allow itself to withdraw from the Strip when it is brimming with terror professionals?
Ma'ariv

According to Israel's largest daily, Yedi'ot Aharonot, 68% of Israelis said in a poll published on Sunday by the Jaffa Strategic Research Institute they backed the disengagement plan because they believed it would reduce suicide bombings.

'Wishful thinking'

"This fact reflects wishful thinking more than a cold analysis of the situation. Yesterday's massacre in Ashdod is another blow to this hope," says the daily.

Ma'ariv also questions "whether Israel can allow itself to withdraw from the Strip when it is brimming with terror professionals filled with a sense of victory and motivation".

Ha'aretz complains that "ever since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his dramatic initiative for a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, the steps he is taking to implement his plan have been clouded in mist".

"Sharon will be making a grave mistake by assuming he'll be able to bury the Gaza withdrawal plan and lay the blame for this at the feet of the other side. He deserves credit for the very fact of raising the initiative, but he will pay a heavy political price if it turns out that he failed to carry it through."

It is possible by tricks to cross the most sophisticated fence
Commentator in Hatzofe

A commentator in the rightist Hatzofe doubts whether any measures will be able to stop determined suicide bombers.

"Yesterday's terrorist attack was not the first one carried out by terrorists infiltrating from the Strip," says Hagay Huberman.

"The lesson from their infiltrations is that it is possible by tricks to cross the most sophisticated fence. If not under it or over it, then by the main road."

The English-language Jerusalem Post publishes a commentary by a former security chief, Ami Ayalon, recommending a considered approach to the issue.

Reconciliation

"Rather than beating a retreat from Gaza and hunkering down behind its boundary fence, Israel should present the withdrawal to the world as a preliminary stage in the process of reconciliation with the Palestinians.

"If they manage to restore order there, we can say there is room to discuss the future of the West Bank and Jerusalem," Mr Ayalon proposes.

Violence or terrorism is a phenomenon that the Palestinian people denounces on both sides, especially since its suffering is tenfold that of the Israelis
Al-Quds

"Instead of barrelling out like a tormented bull, Israel should take the initiative on what could prove to be the first step to peace. Instead of scorched earth, we must leave a foundation there for a better future; instead of children keen to die violently, a new generation pursuing life as our neighbours."

Retaliation

The Palestinian daily Al-Quds says the Ashdod action did not come out of the blue.

"Yesterday, a number of Israelis were killed at the Ashdod port in retaliation for the 25 Palestinians killed in the past two weeks," an editorial says.

"The issue is not as simple as Israeli officials suggest. It is about the legitimate national rights of the Palestinians.

"Violence or terrorism is a phenomenon that the Palestinian people denounces on both sides, especially since its suffering is tenfold that of the Israelis."

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.




SEE ALSO:
Mid-East leaders 'to hold summit'
10 Mar 04  |  Middle East
Israel shuns meeting concessions
12 Mar 04  |  Middle East


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