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Israel warns of response to mass terror

By JOSHUA BRILLIANT   |   Dec. 2, 2002 at 9:48 PM   |   Comments

HERZLIYA, Israel, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- The head of Israel's National Security Council said Monday that a "mega-terror attack" threatening Israel's existence would open options for retaliation that hitherto "were unacceptable to public opinion."

Ephraim Halevy, who recently stepped down as head of the Mossad spy service, warned that Israel has "a broad and varied range of capabilities (to cope with a threat to its existence) that better not be exposed prematurely."

In an address to the Third Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel's Security, Halevy said Israel must examine the new reality created by last week's attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner taking off from Mombassa, Kenya.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Sunday told the Cabinet there were increasing signs that al Qaida was behind Thursday's attacks in Mombassa. Three suicide bombers attacked a hotel frequented by Israelis killing themselves, 10 Kenyans and three Israelis. At the same time two shoulder-launched missiles were fired at an Israeli Boeing 757-300 taking off from Mombassa International Airport with 272 passengers and crew. The missiles barely missed the plane.

Military chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, said Monday the Israel Defense Forces have already foiled many al Qaida attacks in Israel. Al Qaida has Palestinian operatives in the occupied territories and "has declared war on ... infidels, making Israel one of its main targets," he said.

At the Herzliya conference Halevy said, "The emergence of a mega-terror attack by the world Jihad or by another terror organization changes rules of the game, changes the national mood and creates an international dynamic that opens options that so far have been unacceptable to public opinion."

One must assume that a successful mega-terror incident would "at once changes rules of conduct and behavior. The emerging threat (to Israel) is a threat of genocide -- destroying a state and its institutions," he added.

The new National Security Council chief said the campaign the world Jihad is waging has no boundary lines, regular forces and the attackers violate "all rules of war."

No one can remain neutral, he continued. "Whoever gives the terrorists any aide whatsoever -- identifies with terror. It is possible that due to temporary conditions ... not all those aiding terror will be taken care of simultaneously ... But it is clear that at the end of the day whoever fails to clarify his positions here and now and back them with deeds, will be marked as an accessory to terror and will pay the full price for it."

Haalevy declined comment on a report that al Qaida had claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks in Mombassa. He told United Press International he was not aware of any such claim.

Haifa University's Professor Gabriel Ben-Dor reported on a changing public attitude towards terror attacks. Basing his findings on the results of five public opinion surveys conducted at six months intervals among 2,000 people Ben Dor said that more than 80 percent of the Israelis polled expressed fear of terror attacks.

That translated also into increased Israeli militancy with as many as 70 percent ready to back any military action.

However in the last survey, in October, he found a decline in fear, patriotism and militancy. "It seems as though the Israeli public is getting accustomed to living with the phenomena of terror," he concluded.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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