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Sunday, 3 June, 2001, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Disco bombing prompts fierce debate
Aftermath of Tel Aviv suicide bombing
A sadly familiar sight for many in the region
Friday's suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv which killed 19 young Israelis has sparked a fierce debate in the Israeli press over the government's reaction.

Some newspapers have welcomed the decision not to hit back hard immediately, while others have called for urgent action to ensure the security of Israeli civilians.

The liberal daily Ha'aretz praised the cabinet decision not to retaliate with Israel's awesome military might, allowing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat time to take action.


It is precisely a grandiose act of revenge, demonstrating the Israel Defence Forces' full might, that could exacerbate the complex and dangerous situation in which Israel finds itself

Ha'aretz

'Loathsome deed'

"The worst terror attack in Israel in recent years exacted a terrible price on Friday night... The deep mourning for the death of these young people... could not but demand revenge for this loathsome deed," Ha'aretz said.

"Yet it is precisely a grandiose act of revenge, demonstrating the Israel Defence Forces' full might, that could exacerbate the complex and dangerous situation in which Israel finds itself.

"Israeli restraint in recent days has created an opportunity for everyone who is interested in regional stability to apply every possible leverage to the Palestinian [National] Authority, and Arafat at its head, to stop the terror and the violence. To this effort, the Arab states and the nations of Europe must also contribute."


The security cabinet realized that this is not the time for hysteria

The Jerusalem Post
The Jerusalem Post said the cabinet of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was aware "there is no short-term solution". "The security cabinet realised that this is not the time for hysteria, and the measures being taken are modest."

The conservative daily also quoted an expert on extremist groups, Tel Aviv University's Prof Ariel Merari as saying: "This is a special kind of war, and what characterises it is that we cannot, for political reasons, use all the force in our hands.

"We must use it wisely, so that it gives us the international support we need and takes away from the Palestinians the international gains they seek."

Immigrants pay high price


The address is clear and it is the murderous regime in Gaza

Hatzofe
The centre-right Hatzofe was clearly in no mood to bargain. "Arafat Is To Blame" the headline of an editorial said.

"The address is clear and it is the murderous regime in Gaza.

"Regrettably, what we don't understand with our heads, we are eventually forced to realise through pools of blood - that is, those of us who still remain around to realise."

Hatzofe highlighted the fact that the victims were mainly from the former Soviet Union, arguing that immigrants from there had been "greatly besmirched" by many established Israelis.


No more! We cannot sacrifice the life of even a single human being for the sympathy of the entire world. This is where we must stop and retaliate

Dani Shalom in Hatzofe
"These immigrants buy their way into the Israeli society with blood, which blends with ours... In the meantime, Arafat's greatest achievement is his contribution to the unification of Israeli society."

World opinion

Hatzofe commentator Dani Shalom urged the government to act despite the need to win over international opinion.

"No more! We cannot sacrifice the life of even a single human being for the sympathy of the entire world. This is where we must stop and retaliate, even if the entire world protests."

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Sharon: Faces pressure to act
In contrast, the ultra-orthodox-affiliated Hamodia thought that the world was ready for an Israeli retaliation. An editorial called on the government "to exploit the international community's current state of mind and carry out a decisive move to help Israeli citizens feel more secure".

Many commentators in the Arab world took the line that the Israelis deserved all they got for waging war on the Palestinians.

Palestinian call for peace

A notable exception was the major circulation Palestinian daily Al-Quds, which urged both sides to move towards peace.


This moving sight should be placed alongside painful scenes caused by Israeli violence against the Palestinians. An end should be put to these tragic scenes

Al-Quds
In an editorial headlined "Shedding the blood of both sides should stop", Al-Quds regretted the death of "innocent victims" on both sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"This moving sight should be placed alongside painful scenes caused by Israeli violence against the Palestinians. An end should be put to these tragic scenes, not by resorting to more violence and escalation, which will only generate grudges and hatred."

It called for "a real and just peace".

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 Jun 01 | Middle East
Brittle Mid-East truce holds
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