Netanyahu tells Cabinet Israel must build itself up to avoid unrest

Libyan leader continues brutal crackdown

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24 Feb 2011
Netanyahu tells Cabinet Israel must build itself up to avoid unrest

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Knesset on Wednesday that Israel's position in the Middle East in light of recent events in its Arab neighbors is complicated and that the Jewish State must strive for internal strength and cohesion.

"We are in a period of transition, with instability that could continue for many more years. We hope that the Arab world - and Iran - will transition to real democracy, but we need to prepare ourselves for every possible outcome," the prime minister warned. "We do not know what will happen to our west, and we do not know what will happen to our east. You must recognize reality. This reality requires us to recognize that this region is very unstable, and the only thing that stands behind us is our strength, our unity and our determination to defend ourselves."

Netanyahu's remarks came even as reports of massive violence and chaos continued from Libya, where anti-Gadaffi rebels are believed to be in control of most of the eastern half of the country and closing in on Tripoli, where mercenaries and a dwindling number of Libyan soldiers loyal to the long time dictator have continued to battle protesters in the streets.

Rebel forces claimed late Wednesday to have taken control of the city of Misrata, just 210 km east of the capital. Government buildings were also reported to be under attack in the city of Sabratha, west of Tripoli.

The US and EU are considering sanctions against Gaddafi's regime, calling the attacks possible "crimes against humanity" as estimates of the death toll from nearly a week of violence has ranged from a few hundred to several thousand.

"Mercenaries are everywhere with weapons. You can't open a window or door. Snipers hunt people," said one Tripoli resident. "We are under siege."

Meanwhile, former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Mohammed Abud Al Jeleil, who recently resigned in protest against the crackdown, told the Swedish tabloid Expressen on Wednesday that he had evidence Gaddafi has personally ordered the bombing attack on Pan Am flight 103 bombing that killed 270 people over Lockerbie Scotland in 1988.


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