Speakers in Security Council denounce Israeli attacks in Syria

5 October 2003

Meeting in response to the latest developments in the Middle East, speakers in the Security Council today denounced Israel's attacks on Syrian territory, which were widely viewed as a grave escalation of violence in an already volatile region.

Meeting in response to the latest developments in the Middle East, speakers in the Security Council today denounced Israel's attacks on Syrian territory, which were widely viewed as a grave escalation of violence in an already volatile region.

A number of participants also deplored yesterday's suicide bombing in Haifa but cautioned that it could not excuse the subsequent attack on Syria, which they said constituted a violation of international law. Syria was lauded for not responding militarily, while it was generally agreed that all concerned must pursue a just and comprehensive peace as outlined by the diplomatic Quartet comprising the UN, United States, Russian Federation and European Union.

The meeting, which heard from over two dozen participants, was convened at the request of Syria's Ambassador to the UN, Fayssal Mekdad, who today asked the Council to discuss the violations of Syrian and Lebanese airspace committed by the Israeli air force, and the missile attack it carried out against the village of Ain Al Sahib, a civilian site situated inside Syrian territory.

Ambassador Mekdad sent letters to the Secretary-General and the Council President from Syria's Foreign Minister, Farouk Al-Sharaa, who offered details on the incidents, which he called “a flagrant violation of the principles of international law” marking “a new and dangerous escalation.”

Addressing the Council this afternoon, Ambassador Mekdad expanded on this theme, calling Israel's aggression a violation of the UN Charter, international law and the 1974 Disengagement Agreement between the two countries. He said Israel's terrorist act of aggression this morning was part of a strategic policy aimed at escalating tension in the Middle East just when the international community was pursuing efforts towards peace in the region.

Echoing a warning put forward in the Foreign Minister's letter, he said Syria was “not incapable of establishing a balance of resistance and deterrence that would force Israel to revise its calculations.” He also voiced hope that the Council would adopt a resolution responding to the current situation.

Israel's representative, Dan Gillerman, referred to the attack yesterday in Haifa as the latest of more than 40 terrorist atrocities committed by Islamic Jihad in the past few years. He charged Syria with encouraging, harbouring, training, funding and supporting a variety of notorious terrorist organizations, including Islamic Jihad. Syria, he said, had itself directed acts of terrorism, with coordination and briefings by phone and Internet, and by summoning activists to Damascus for briefings. He also said that Iran supported terrorist organizations.

Syria used its State-run media and official institutions to glorify and encourage suicide bombings against civilians, he said. The Syrian delegate, he added, spoke a great deal about resistance but did not explain precisely how the murder of children in a restaurant was an act of resistance.

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Video of Council meeting

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