Newsletter : 5fax0711.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
July 11, 1995, V3, #126
All the News the Big Guys Missed
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Hizbullah Shells Israel After Lebanese Girls Killed
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
This past weekend's exchange of fire between Israeli forces in
Southern Lebanon and the Hizbullah terrorist group has caused a
controversy in Israel. It was Saturday when an Israeli tank
commander in the occupied zone in southern Lebanon ordered shell
fire on the Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh. Two teen-aged girls were
killed and several people were injured. Hizbullah responded by
firing 30 Katyusha rockets into northern Israel on Sunday.
The Israeli army chief of staff said the Israeli tank attack on
Nabatiyeh had been a "human error." Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
called it an unnecessary mistake, and said such mistakes should
The weekend exchange of fire was just the latest in a series of
such incidents in recent weeks, in which several people on both
sides have been killed. An Israeli newspaper report says Israeli
officials will ask US Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross to help
ease the tension during his visit to the region this week. Ross was
in Israel on Monday and he goes to Syria today. Syria is one of the
chief sponsors of Hizbullah.
Israel and Hizbullah have been operating according to an
understanding brokered by the US two years ago, which is designed
to reduce the number of attacks on civilians on both sides. But
the arrangement is violated frequently for military or political
reasons, or through retaliatory attacks by one side or the other,
or by mistake, as the Israelis claim in this case.
Two weeks ago the Israeli commander in southern Lebanon, General
Giora Inbar, told visiting foreign journalists his troops are
instructed not to fire into civilian areas. But he said
Hizbullah often operates in or very near villages and sometimes
civilians will get hit either because Hizbullah fighters hide
behind them or because Israeli soldiers make a mistake. "We have
some examples that our best soldiers had such mistakes. It
happens. It's a war here. Now, the war is being held between the
civilian villages. It's not a military area."
Inbar says an Israeli pilot accidentally bombed a Lebanese village
a year ago, killing several people, and resulting in Katyusha
attacks on northern Israel. He says there was also an incident
last year in which an Israeli soldier in southern Lebanon
accidentally shelled an Israeli town.
Israel says there has been a marked increase in the number of
attacks by Hizbullah in recent months. Some officials believe
the increase is related to peace negotiations, as Syria tries to
keep up pressure on Israel, and Hizbullah tries to improve its
military and political position in advance of any possible peace
Israeli press reports indicate senior military officers were
angry at Sunday's criticism from the chief of staff and the prime
minister. They say soldiers must be free to defend themselves
and that the Israeli army could seriously damage Hizbullah's
fighting ability if it were given a freer hand. But the Israeli
government is reportedly more interested in easing the situation,
perhaps with help from the traveling US diplomat.
Negotiations will Move to Italy
By Al Pessin (Jerusalem)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators working on plans to expand
Palestinian autonomy are expected to move their talks to Italy this
week. The negotiators hope to leave the media spotlight behind and
focus on the main issues they want to settle before their new July
25 target date. But the plan to move the talks to an as-yet
undisclosed location in Italy has only generated more media
An Israeli official speaking on condition of anonymity says the
talks will be somewhere near Rome, but not in a castle, as one
Israeli newspaper has reported.
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian official says there is at least
one serious, basic issue dividing the two sides, even after the
agreement in principle reached on July 4 by the Palestinian
leader, Yasir Arafat, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
The official, Faisal Husseini, says the two sides have agreed
that in the interim phase, which is to last until 1999, there
will be some areas under full Palestinian control, some under
full Israeli control, and some jointly controlled. Husseini
says the basic disagreement is over which side will have ultimate
authority in the jointly controlled areas.
The areas to be jointly-controlled are the most sensitive for
both sides. They reportedly include the cities of Ramallah and
Bethlehem, adjacent to Jerusalem, and perhaps parts of the city
of Hebron, which is a focal point of extremism from both sides.
Israeli officials say their troops must be able to operate freely
in those areas to guarantee the safety of Israeli settlers and
the security of main roads, and to prevent terrorism. Israeli
officials have said the Palestinian police who will operate in
some of the West Bank cities will need Israeli permission to move
outside of those cities.
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