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BICOM Daily Briefing October 22 2003

Last updated: 2003-10-22

Israel values human life and deeply regrets the deaths of innocents on all sides. Israel does all in its power to avoid such deaths and never targets civilians during military operations. Israel has the right to defend the lives of its citizens from terrorists, who hide amongst the civilian population and bring death and misery to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel calls upon the Palestinian leadership to take action against the terror infrastructure.

Media Summary:

The aftermath of Israel’s airstrikes on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip features in the pages of The Guardian, Independent, Daily Telegraph and Times, with all of the papers failing to mention the release of an IDF videotape refuting the Palestinian version of events during the airstrikes. The videotape is, however, covered in the Israeli press, particularly by Ha’aretz. In other news, The Times and Financial Times report that the Malaysian prime minister has reiterated his anti-Jewish remarks despite an international outcry. The Financial Times briefly reports that Yasser Arafat is to have a gallstone operation.

Quotes of the Day:

Moshe Katsav, Israeli President (21/10): “I extend my condolences to the families of the innocent who were hurt. We have to fight terror and don't have any choice, and when our security services receive information that a terror attack is about to take place, then it would be irresponsible if they and the government allow these perpetrators to carry out the attack.”

Adam Ereli, US State Department spokesman (21/10): “The President has made clear that we recognise Israel's right to defend itself against terror attacks. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, must move against those launching Kassam 2 rockets - that have a 20-kilometre range and are an improvised missile system. If the Palestinians would take steps on security, as we have urged, then Israel perhaps would not feel the need to act unilaterally in this way in its defence.”

Behind the News:

IDF releases videotape refuting Palestinian claims of airstrike against civilian crowd:

Ha’aretz reports that the IDF Tuesday night released a videotape of the missile strike in the Nuseirat refugee camp demonstrating there were no crowds in the street when a second missile struck an escaping car. The video refutes Palestinian claims that an Israel Air Force missile was launched into a crowd of civilians. The Palestinians say that at least 14 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the five air raids that took place on Monday, and that as many as eight of those were killed in the attack on a car travelling on Nuseirat's main road. But the videotape, shot from a small unmanned aircraft flying over the area, showed there were no people on the street when a second missile struck the car, which was carrying terrorists, after a first missile did not stop it.

The video did show a crowd gathering around the car about two minutes after the second strike. The IDF stated that the car was carrying terrorists, including a suicide bomber, who had failed to get across the fence at Nahal Oz. Army sources said the missiles used to attack the car were not powerful enough for the shrapnel to penetrate concrete, so without any crowds on the street when the second missile struck, and with the missiles not strong enough to damage houses lining the road, the Palestinians must be fabricating the stories of mass casualties.

UN approves resolution demanding end to construction of security fence:

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Israel halt construction of its security fence. The vote was 144 to 4 with 12 abstentions. The US, Israel, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia voted against the resolution presented by the Arab states. The vote followed six hours of haggling between European Union and Arab governments over the text of the measures, which had originally been drafted by the Palestinian envoy to the UN, and took a harsher line against Israeli actions. In the end, all 15 EU members agreed to sponsor the compromise, which said that the barrier was in contradiction to international law and demanded that Israel stop and reverse its construction within Palestinian lands. EU diplomats said that the compromise was far more balanced than the vetoed resolution in the Security Council last week. It condemned suicide bombings including the recent attack in Haifa and last week’s bomb attack in Gaza that killed three US security officers.

Arab states took the dispute to an emergency session of the 191-nation General Assembly after the US last week vetoed a similar measure in the Security Council. General Assembly resolutions merely express the will of the international community but are not binding, while Security Council resolutions can be binding under international law.

Comment and Opinion:

Ha'aretz (22/10): “For three years now, since the start of the intifada, Israel has flatly - and rightfully - rejected the effort of its enemies to equate the horrors perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists with the operations of the IDF in its war on terror. Granted, these operations sometimes injure unarmed Palestinians, including children who get caught in the crossfire. But Israel's main argument, which by and large is justified, is that, unlike the Palestinian terrorists, the IDF does not set out to target peaceful civilians. The ethos of the IDF still calls for every effort, even to the extent of risking the lives of our own men, in order to avoid inadvertent injury to innocent bystanders. Senior IDF commanders say that, whenever such injuries appear imminent, the operation is cancelled - no matter how important it is.”


The Israel Daily Briefing is supplied by BICOM