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Saturday, 28 September, 2002, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
MidEast press pessimism over intifada
Hooded militiamen with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades hold demonstration
Support for Arafat remains strong amongst Palestinians
As Palestinians mark the second anniversary of their uprising or intifada against Israeli occupation, newspapers in the Middle East reflect a prevailing pessimism about the future.

In a particularly bleak prognosis in Israel's left-of-centre Ha'aretz, commentator Amir Oren fears there is a long and hard road ahead.

He says that on the second anniversary of the conflict, the Israeli military's "working assumption... is that the conflict won't come to an end in 2003".

Air force helicopter crews are preparing to receive new missiles for their Apaches from the U.S., called Longbows, which will be able to hit distant targets with great accuracy, he writes.

Angels of death

The military has renamed them "Seraphs, as in angels... The 'angels' will reach Israel next year and end up in use against the Palestinians."


Either some stupid officer will give the order to open fire, or the army will accept the fact that an entire people cannot be kept under lock and key

Ha'aretz commentator, Yoel Marcus

"Meanwhile, the current missiles used by Apaches are enough to turn Arafat into yesterday's story, with very little tomorrow," Mr Oren adds, also warning that a major military incursion into Gaza to crack down on Hamas is in the offing.

Another Ha'aretz commentator, Yoel Marcus, warns that Israel is sitting on a time bomb and "its only a matter of time".

Mr Marcos says that for the first time since "the occupation", Palestinians have violated a curfew in several cities "as a spontaneous protest against the IDF's hazing of Arafat".

"They galloped through the streets in noisy protest, totally ignoring our forces. The IDF, using its brains this time, did not respond."

A hasty decision could have ended in a bloodbath, he writes.

2 month-old baby was one of the victims of attack on Gaza city
The conflict with Israel has claimed many lives

"But it's only a matter of time before not hundreds, but thousands and tens of thousands, take to the streets during a total curfew. And then, either some stupid officer will give the order to open fire, or the army will accept the fact that an entire people cannot be kept under lock and key."

The Jerusalem Post warns that apart from popular protests, Israel can expect a terrorist onslaught from Hamas after its military commander Mohammed Deif survived an Israeli attempt to kill him.

"Deif back at top of most wanted list," it reports. It quotes Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi as vowing to retaliate for the attack.

"Hamas will escalate martyrdom operations inside Tel Aviv and Jaffa and Haifa and everywhere. We are determined to wipe out Zionist terrorism," Mr Rantisi is quoted as saying.

'Lunacy'

Another aspect of Palestinian unrest is highlighted by Ha'aretz in an article on the West Bank city of Nablus.


The Intifada moved the Zionist entity back to point zero, to square one

Hamas political leader Khalid Mish'al

"At the present time, while 200,000 residents of Nablus are under curfew and the territories are boiling, the idea of permitting zealots and eccentrics to visit Joseph's Tomb, in the heart of an occupied city, is lunacy.

"This development provides additional evidence that a handful of fanatic, eccentric settlers can bend the IDF and the government to their will."

For Hamas political leader Khalid Mish'al, the achievements of the Intifada have been "great by any standard".

Point zero

"It is part of Palestinian creativity. It proves that the resistance option is credible and capable of scoring significant achievements," he says in an interview with the Saudi Arabian paper Jedda Ukaz.

"In the past two years, the Intifada moved the Zionist entity back to point zero, to square one, to 54 years ago. Today the Israelis are casting doubt on their presence and future."

Another Saudi paper, Riyadh Daily, regrets that "as the Palestinians mark the second sad anniversary of the Intifada today, they can only remember the scores of martyrs who have lost their lives in the struggle for justice".

"It is truly appalling that the international outcry against Israel has remained a mere voice in the wilderness."

No surrender

In Egypt, Al-Jumhuriyah declares "Israel in panic", while leading daily Al-Ahram warns Israel about making a mistake in thinking its present actions "will lead to the humiliation of this valiant people, forcing it to drop on its knees and preventing it from carrying on its resistance to occupation".


Will the Intifada return to its original mass-based nature, or will Israeli repression take it, once again, to the mine-strewn fields of vengeance

Palestinian Daily, Al-Ayyam

In Lebanon, the head of the Hezbollah movement which fought Israel to a standstill in the south, causing its withdrawal, made a speech in Beirut to mark the anniversary.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hasan Nasrallah describes the Intifada as "stronger than the siege, the starvation, the desperation and the drums of war that are being beaten all over the world by the tyrants and arrogant ones", in a speech broadcast on Lebanese Al-Manar Television.

"We are speaking about the inevitable day when the Zionists in Palestine will collect their luggage and property and return to the places from whence they came."

The Palestinian paper Al-Ayyam asks whether mass unrest or targeted attacks will prevail, arguing that that the latter had recently come to the fore "in lieu of mass action which appeared weak and useless in the face of bloodshed throughout the homeland".

"The question is: Will the Intifada return to its original mass-based nature, or will Israeli repression take it, once again, to the mine-strewn fields of vengeance?"

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:

28 Sep 02 | Middle East
27 Sep 02 | Middle East
27 Sep 02 | Middle East
24 Sep 02 | Middle East
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