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Security Council meets on Israeli attack in Syria

Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman, left, answered charges from Syrian ambassador Fayssal Mekdad at an emergency session of the Security Council Sunday.
Israeli ambassador Dan Gillerman, left, answered charges from Syrian ambassador Fayssal Mekdad at an emergency session of the Security Council Sunday.

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(CNN) -- Syria on Sunday called for the U.N. Security Council to condemn Israel's airstrike against what Israel called a terrorist training camp inside Syrian territory. Israel said it acted in self-defense after a suicide bombing that killed 19 people.

Syria, an elected member of the Security Council, requested a special meeting Sunday and asked the council to strongly condemn the attack.

Syrian U.N. Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad called the raid an act of "unwarranted aggression" that violated the U.N. charter and the 1974 disengagement agreement that followed the 1973 Mideast war.

He said Syria has exercised "maximum self-restraint," but he accused Israel of trying "to export its current domestic crisis to the entire region."

But Israeli U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman called the airstrike a "measured defensive operation" aimed at a training camp used by Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group the U.S. State Department has designated a terrorist organization.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for Saturday's suicide bombing in Haifa, which killed 19 people.

Gillerman said Israel acted in accordance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which allows nations a right of self-defense. And Syria has "put itself in the dock" by calling for Sunday's meeting, he said.

"There are few better exhibits of state sponsorship for terrorism than the one provided by the Syrian regime," he said.

The United States holds the council's rotating presidency, and invited Israel to take a seat at the council table. Gillerman said he would be "very surprised if the U.S. supported a Syrian resolution."

No casualties reported in airstrike

There were no reports of casualties in the airstrike which came hours after a suicide bombing at an Israeli restaurant which left 19 dead.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry insisted Sunday that the Israeli target near Damascus was actually a civilian site. In a written statement, the ministry called the overnight attack a flagrant violation in an already tense region.

In Cairo, the 22-member Arab League was to meet Sunday and then issue a statement, said league spokesman Hisham Yousof.

The Ein Saheb camp, described by Israel as deep inside Syria, had been used by "many terror organizations," including Islamic Jihad, for training, the Israel Defense Forces said.

A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad denied there were any Islamic Jihad training bases in Syria.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Sunday named Ahmed Qorei prime minister and temporary leader of an emergency Cabinet after Israel's bombing in Syria, Qorei said.

The eight-member Cabinet will stay in place for one month, Qorei said, until a permanent Cabinet can be named. Qorei's appointment was to be taken up Wednesday by Palestinian lawmakers. That session has been canceled.

U.S. urges restraint

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IDF issued video to journalists of what it said is the terror training camp it targeted in Syria.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNN he had called the White House to ask the Bush administration to help de-escalate the situation.

A Bush administration official Sunday urged restraint. "We urge both Israel and Syria to avoid actions that heighten tensions or could lead to hostilities," the official said.

The official explained that the Bush administration had been informed Sunday morning by the government of Israel about the attack, which had occurred several hours earlier.

"We are seeking full details," the official added, saying that the Bush administration has repeatedly told Syria "that it is on the wrong side in the war on terror and that it must stop harboring terrorists. That is still our view." (Full story)

Monday is the 30-year anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

This attack came late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, just hours after a terrorist suicide bombing in Haifa, Israel, on Saturday afternoon killed 19 people.

Israeli government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said the camp was just 10 miles from the Syrian capital Damascus. Gissin disputed the Islamic Jihad claim to have no camps in Syria.

Terror in Haifa

Terror in Haifa

Nineteen people died and at least 50 people were wounded Saturday when a female suicide bomber walked into the popular Arab-owned restaurant, Maxim, at the southern entrance of Haifa, a Mediterranean port city.

Much of the restaurant, which police said was filled with families and had a security guard, was destroyed. (Full story)

Shortly after Saturday's terrorist attack in Haifa, an Israeli Apache helicopter fired at least two rockets at a house in Gaza City, Palestinian sources said.

The house belonged to Rezik Kamita, who security sources said belongs to either Islamic Jihad or Hamas. Kamita's son is a member of Hamas' military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, and was targeted by Israeli forces a few weeks ago in Gaza City, the sources said.

There was no one inside the house at the time, sources said. There was no information on deaths or injuries.

Israelis also launched a second airstrike at the Al-Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza, security sources said. They fired five rockets at a home, and one person was left slightly injured, sources said. (Full story)

Tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians have heightened in recent weeks after a string of Palestinian terror attacks against Israelis and deadly Israeli strikes on Palestinian extremist group members that also have killed and wounded Palestinian bystanders.


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