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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 3 December, 2002, 13:10 GMT
Israel media debate 'al-Qaeda' action
Funeral of Israeli brothers Noy and Dvir Anter, killed in Kenya hotel blast
Israel buries the dead as media ponders next moves

A statement on an Islamist web site claiming al-Qaeda was behind the two attacks on Israeli targets in Kenya triggers discussion in the Israeli media on the extent to which the country should broaden its focus and enter the fight against international terror.

The mass circulation Yediot Aharonot says Israel takes the statement "very seriously".
A mega-terror attack against Israel changes the rules of the game

Efrayim Halevi
The paper reports remarks made by the head of Israeli National Security, Efrayim Halevi.

"From a national point of view, it would be correct to consider the Mombasa event as though it had ended in a real tragedy", Halevi said.

"A mega-terror attack against Israel changes the rules of the game...

"Those who are dealing with the attempt to re-evaluate Israel's international situation, must assume that a successful mega-terror attack took place, which in one fell swoop changed the rules of behaviour."

Non-specific

The daily Maariv puts Halevi's comments to "senior security sources". The paper says they see the remarks reflecting "an intention by senior defence echelons to respond in 'an unusual and unprecedented manner if a mega-terror attack is perpetrated against Israel'".

Security officials in Israel had prior, but not pinpointed, information

Israel radio

There is no further explanation of what this "unusual and unprecedented manner" might mean. But according to Maariv, the security apparatus now understands the term "Israel" in a global sense.

"Such a reaction can be expected whether the mega-attack is perpetrated in Israel by a Palestinian terror organisation or there is a huge attack against Israelis abroad."

Israel radio raises the question of how much Israel was forewarned of the Mombasa incidents.

"Security officials in Israel had prior, but not pinpointed, information," it says.

"The information said Mombasa was a possible target.. [but] it was vague, and it was unclear if Israelis would be the target of such an operation."

Israel should lower its profile in this global campaign

Yoel Marcus

Israeli army radio reports that the country's intelligence is already collecting "information on activities by Islamic terrorist organisations around the world".

To act, or not?

A main report in the daily Haaretz says the Israeli defence establishment "has already foiled in the past a number of attempts by al-Qaeda to infiltrate activists into Israel".

The commentator Yoel Marcus urges caution. "Israel should lower its profile in this global campaign."

"It could contribute its modest part by focusing on reaching a political deal with the Palestinians. President Bush is now leading a long and difficult global campaign. Let us not be the reason for its failure."

Israel has one big advantage - the targeted assassinations in the territories

Yossi Melman

A fellow intelligence affairs commentator, Yossi Melman, advocates a different line.

"For years, Israel's intelligence community did not show much interest in the goings-on in Afghanistan, the emergence of the phenomenon of the 'Afghan Arab', and in the taking root of al-Qaeda", he complains.

This led to Israeli intelligence relying more and more on the Americans. But now at least, Israel can offer something in return.

"Israel has one big advantage - the targeted assassinations in the territories that are attributed to it in the international media. This experience, which the CIA has already begun adopting, is important."

"All are targets"

The right-wing commentator Arye Eldad, writing in Yediot Aharonot, is clear what Israel should now do.

"We must remove the artificial distinction we created in the war against terrorism, between the military and political echelons of terrorism."

This means that all are potential targets - "the last Hamas suicide bomber and Sheikh Ahmad Yasin [spiritual leader of Hamas]".

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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03 Dec 02 | Africa
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