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Fire, Anger In The North

First Publish: 5/4/2003, 8:32 PM

The Hizbullah terrorist organization of southern Lebanon has rejected the demand by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to withdraw from its positions along the Lebanese border with Israel. "Withdrawal is not in our lexicon," a Hizbullah spokesman stated, only hours before the terrorists fired yet another anti-aircraft rocket towards Israel this morning. The missile landed in an open field south of Metullah.

No one was hurt in the attack, but the attack added salt to the wounds of the northern frontline communities, where workers took to the streets today in angry demonstrations against the government's fiscal recovery plan. Demonstrators burnt tires at the Kiryat Shmona and Nahariya Junctions.

Maalot Mayor Shlomo Buchbut, explaining the anger, said today that the only incentive for young couples to come and build their homes in the beleaguered north is the tax breaks - and that if these are withdrawn, as the government's new economic plan threatens, many people will not want to come and others will leave. Asked if he does not think that Kfar Saba and Netanya are more "front-line" communities than the north, Buchbut said, "I invite you to come and live here for a two days, and then tell me what you think." Many of the Hizbullah attacks on the north cause no casualties and therefore go under-reported.

Powell called for Hizbullah's withdrawal in a meeting yesterday with Syrian President Assad. It was reported that Assad told Powell that the Damascus offices of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were closed, but Hamas seniors denied this.