November 5, 1995
Web posted at: 3:15 p.m. EST (2015 GMT)
DAMASCUS, Syria (CNN) -- While many leaders of Arab nations have offered condolences to Israel for the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, no such statement has emerged from Syria. Syrian media reported the slaying without comment.
Syria and Lebanon are the only immediate neighbors of Israel who have not reached a peace agreement with the Jewish state. Negotiations are stalled over the issue of the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war.
While Syria has remained silent, militant anti-Israel groups have expressed their approval of Rabin's slaying. An Islamic Jihad leader in Damascus, Syria's capital, said he did not regret the murder of Rabin, whom he called "the leader of world terrorism." "So what if the world loses a criminal," Abu Ahmad Issam told Agence France Press. Islamic Jihad accuses Israel of plotting the assassination of Islamic Jihad leader Fathi Shakaki in Malta on October 26. Israel has not denied it.
In Lebanon, a rally called by Hezbollah, a pro-Iranian, militant Muslim group, to mourn Shakaki's death turned into a celebration of Rabin's death. About 5,000 people rallied in the southern part of Beirut. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told the group that Rabin's assassination was a "cheerful event that made hearts happy." And Shakaki's successor told the rally that Islamic Jihad militants would continue suicide bombings against Israeli targets. Such attacks have increased dramatically since the PLO and Israel reached their first agreement in the peace process two years ago.
At the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp in southern Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold, Palestinian guerrillas and refugees rejoiced in the streets minutes after hearing news of the shooting. "We congratulate our people and nation over the killing of Rabin, the murderer of children and old people and the usurper of land," Lt. Col. Munir Maqdah, who heads an anti-PLO guerrilla faction, told Reuters news service.
Other enemies of Israel responded, as well. Libya said Rabin was a terrorist who died with Arab blood on his hands. Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called the killing "divine revenge" for Shakaki's slaying. In Iraq, an official newspaper was headlined with a verse from the Koran: "Wherever you are, death can reach you, even in ivory towers."
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