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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 10:57 GMT 11:57 UK
Press alarm at assassination in Syria

Israel's assassination of the Hamas leader Izz El-Deen Sheikh Khalil in Syria is widely seen by the Middle East press as a veiled warning to Damascus, which Israel has accused of supporting terrorists, rather than retaliation to Hamas.

Though many Israeli commentators believe the move justified, some question if it was wise. Middle East and pan-Arab papers are angered by what one paper calls Israel's "attempt to export its internal crises" to the Arab world, and one Palestinian commentator calls on Syria to respond by turning the other cheek.

The message Israel delivered is that Israel is willing to go up a notch in its war on terror. The price is worth it politically... Israel showed it is capable of staging this assassination within Syria.

Commentary by Arieh O'Sullivan in Israel's Jerusalem Post

The more Israel's example is followed, rather than pilloried, the closer we will be to victory over the jihad that threatens people everywhere.

Israel's Jerusalem Post

The assassination was not just directed against a terrorist organization, it was a message to Damascus in response to its increasing support for terror organizations. The question is how will Damascus respond, if it responds. It is very unlikely that Syria's leaders will seek open and direct military confrontation with Israel. But Syria's ability to respond has usually manifested itself in indirect action against Israel.

Commentary by Ze'ev Schiff in Israel's Ha'aretz

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.

Commentary by Ronen Bergman in Israel's Yediot Aharonot

The operation was not a settling of scores with Hamas. In fact, it was aimed at the Syrian regime, which has been humiliated... Soon we will know whether the operation was wise and not just justified.

Commentary by Amir Rapaport in Israel's Ma'ariv

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.

Commentary by Gad Shomron in Israel's Ma'ariv

Israel's intention is to target the entire Arab region. The new aggression also coincides with American threats against Syria. Therefore, the Israeli aggression goes hand-in-hand with the American stance towards Syria.

Saudi Arabia's Al-Jazirah

Undoubtedly the Israeli crime, with Arab Damascus as its venue, will not be the last. Israeli crimes will not be restricted to Syrian Arab territory unless the Arabs wake up and realise they are all targeted

Egypt's Al-Jumhuriyah

The assassination 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.

Jordan's Al-Dustur

Israel has not, even for a day, suffered any crisis of shortage of agents, nor has it felt embarrassment at violating the sovereignty of any other state.

Commentary by Zuhayr Qusaybati in London-based Al-Hayat

The assassination is a great "insult" to the Syrian government and a major breach of its security apparatus ... Israel is provoking Syria and is attempting to export its internal crises... Europe will be the first loser if Hamas carries out its threat to transfer the battle abroad, since it will become a theatre for attacks as was the case in the 70s.

Commentary by Abd-al-Bari Atwan in London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi

Assassinating Izz El-Deen in this despicable manner carries a clear Israeli message that all Palestinians are targets of Israeli terrorism... and Israel carries out sabotage in Syria, with US sponsorship and political positions that prostitutes would be ashamed of. 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.

Commentary by Fu'ad Abu Hijlah in Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

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 US ruffianism.

Commentary by Ahmad Dahbur in Palestinian Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

Israel knows well that the assassinations policy will fail to break the Palestinian people's will and resistance. This will only make us adhere more to our rights and legitimate struggle for freedom.

Palestinian Al-Quds

Damascus will, as usual, probably avoid retaliating directly in the Golan Heights to this blow to its heart. The most efficient response would be to continue its "peace attack", which embarrasses Israel, and continue Syria's role in sponsoring the Palestinian dialogue.

Commentary by Hasan al-Batal in Palestinian Al-Ayyam

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.

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