- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2001

From combined dispatches
JERUSALEM — Israel pledged to give its full support to the United States and called for all-out war on terrorism after the attacks on New York and Washington yesterday.
In a defensive move and following the U.S. example after the plane attacks, Israel closed its airspace for 24 hours to all incoming flights by foreign carriers, the airports authority said.
Also, the government announced that Israel was to declare a national day of mourning in solidarity with the United States after a devastating series of aircraft attacks hit buildings in New York and Washington.
The state of mourning would take effect today, with flags flown at half-staff across the Jewish state to express its sorrow over the unprecedented assault on its main ally, senior political sources said.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged full support to the United States, and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres called for all-out war on terrorism.
"Knowing our bitter experience of terrorism, if it turns out the events in United States were a terrorist attack, Israel will do all it can, and expresses condolences to the victims of the tragedy," said a spokesman for Mr. Sharon.
"This is a turning point in the international war on terrorism. This is a war between good and evil. The fight of the free world against the forces of darkness," said Mr. Sharon at a news conference yesterday.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said yesterday that the time has come to "destroy terrorist regimes starting with the Palestinian Authority."
"What happened in the United States is a turning point in history," he said on Israeli public television.
Mr. Netanyahu called for the "formation of an international front against terrorism."
Mr. Netanyahu has been increasingly critical of Mr. Sharon in recent weeks, saying he was not taking a tough enough line against the Palestinians. Mr. Sharon and senior Cabinet ministers also decided to close off all of Israel's border crossings as part of a measure to heighten security already tight amid a nearly year-old Palestinian uprising.
The new orders followed the closure of Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport yesterday to foreign airlines.
An Israeli airport spokesman said foreign flights would not be allowed to land or take off from Ben Gurion airport at least until midday today "because of the situation."
The Defense Ministry said army teams were preparing to leave for the United States. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer ordered the mission, which will include teams specialized in rescuing victims trapped in collapsed buildings.
Mr. Peres said the world must "fight without compromise" against terrorism after the unprecedented attacks rocked the United States, Israeli public television reported.
"The danger of terrorism is a worldwide danger. The world must organize itself to face it because terrorism can strike anywhere, over borders and over the heads of the most powerful armies in the world," Mr. Peres said.
The foreign minister did not say whom he believed responsible for the wave of attacks but said, "We know countries that are centers of terrorism."
The minister met with defense officials to review the consequences of the U.S. attacks for Israel, which is "ready for any eventuality."
Israel moved swiftly to evacuate its diplomatic missions in the United States, fearing they may also be targets for attack, according to the public television. Only key personnel were kept in place, it said.
Although the culprits were still unidentified and no link was established with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Ben Eliezer denounced the threat posed by Islamic extremists.
"Terrorism by Islamic extremists represents the biggest threat to the free world," the minister said in a statement. "The aim of this terrorism is to destroy the foundations of democratic society and Westerners."


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