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Sharon: Unlimited operations in Gaza
by ALJ
Sunday Jan 16th, 2005 10:14 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given orders for troops to carry out unlimited operations against Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip.
"The current situation is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue," Sharon said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

"The Tsahal (army) and the security forces have received orders to operate without any limits on time or their modus operandi to act against the terrorist organisations.

In the first Palestinian reaction to Sharon's new policy, Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath said the new military campaign under way in Gaza will only serve to further undermine the peace process,.

"This policy will not serve the peace process and I ask the Israeli people to reject this Sharon policy," Shaath said after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Nobutaka Machimura in Ram Allah.

Ties suspended

A Sharon spokesman on Friday said the Israeli prime minister would refuse to meet with Palestinian president-elect, Mahmud Abbas, until he acted against armed resistance groups behind Thursday night's attack at the al-Mintar (Karni) crossing.

At least six Israelis and three Palestinians were killed in the explosion set off by Palestinian resistance fighters there.

Fifteen people were also injured in the attack, the biggest since Abbas won the election to succeed Yasir Arafat as head of the Palestinian Authority.

Shortly before Sharon's statements, an Israeli drone bombed a Palestinian home in the al-Salatin district west of Bait Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip.

The home was severely damaged, but none of its residents, a 16-member-family, were reported to have been injured.

An Israeli military spokesman said the attack targeted a workshop used for making rockets and mortar shells.

Rockets fired

Meanwhile, Hamas' military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has issued a statement claiming responsibility for firing two Qassam rockets at the Jewish town of Sderot inside in the northern Gaza Strip.

In a separate statement, the movement claimed responsibility for firing another two Qassam rockets at the Eli Sinai settlement in northern Gaza Strip.

An Israeli spokesperson said no injuries were sustained due to the rocket attacks.

Newly elected Palestinian President Abbas had called for an end to Qassam rocket attacks on Israeli targets, but he has largely been ignored by Palestinian resistance groups.

Aljazeera + Agencies
by more
Sunday Jan 16th, 2005 11:14 AM
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he has given his troops a free hand to launch a crackdown on Palestinian militants.

His announcement came only seven days after the election of new Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Despite the change in Palestinian leadership, we have yet to see them taking any action against terror," Mr Sharon told his cabinet.

Hours later, the PLO urged militant groups to end attacks on Israel.

On Thursday, six Israelis were killed in an attack at a Gaza Strip crossing.

Israel severed contacts with the Palestinian leadership after the attack.

On Saturday eight Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops during incursions into Gaza.

Two Israelis, including a seven-year-old, were injured by Palestinian rockets.

"The Israeli military and security apparatus have been instructed to take any action needed without restriction," Mr Sharon said on Sunday.

"These instructions will remain valid as long as the Palestinians fail to lift even a single finger."

Cabinet members from Mr Sharon's new coalition partners, the Labour party, expressed support for Mr Sharon's tough line.

"[Mr Abbas] has clearly said that he is opposed to terrorism but now his words must be translated into action," said Interior Minister Ophir Pines.

"He must prove his determination to confront the terrorists."

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath condemned the announcement.

"At the same time that Abu Mazen says he will work hard to return to the peace track, Sharon declares a military escalation," he said, using the Palestinian leader's nickname.

Mr Abbas used his inauguration speech on Saturday to call for a ceasefire between Israel and the militants.

Palestinian officials said Mr Abbas will visit the Gaza Strip this week in an effort to convince militant groups to stop attacks against Israeli targets.

But the BBC's correspondent in Jerusalem, James Reynolds, says Mr Sharon's latest move may complicate Mr Abbas' tactic of trying to reach a ceasefire through negotiation and persuasion.

Militant factions have indicated they will only stop attacks if Israel does the same.

Mr Sharon's comments to his cabinet suggest that that is unlikely to happen, our correspondent says.
by Haaretz
Sunday Jan 16th, 2005 9:55 PM

Mon., January 17, 2005 Shvat 7, 5765 Israel Time: 04:47 (GMT+2)

Israel holds off on Gaza operation

By Amos Harel and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

Israel is refraining from carrying out a widespread military operation in the Gaza Strip, despite having threatened to do so over the weekend in reaction to last Thursday's terror attack at the Karni crossing.

As of Sunday, Israel appeared prepared to give newly elected Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a limited amount of time to stop the rocket and mortar fire coming from Gaza.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is saying no limitations have been placed on the IDF, but in practice he is not hastening to send troops into the Strip for anything more than a limited "measured response."

On Saturday, when a teenage girl was critically wounded in a rocket attack on Sderot and two days after six people were killed in the Karni attack, political and military officials threatened to begin a major Israel Defense Forces operation in Gaza. But the atmosphere changed Sunday, when various officials, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, asked Sharon to give Abbas (known as Abu Mazen) some time to deal with the terror organizations.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said last night that they have not made any decision to stop military activity, saying the IDF has free rein in Gaza. "If Abu Mazen wants to deploy police officers in Gaza to prevent Qassam fire, he can do that - and IDF activity doesn't interfere with his doing so," the sources said.

Military sources said Sunday that the IDF is preparing for a "measured response" in Gaza. The army intends to carry out a series of local, targeted operations in areas from where the terror groups have launched rockets. The IDF is likely to send relatively small units for a short time. So far a fairly small number of additional troops has been sent to Gaza.

In contrast to its behavior following previous instances of rocket attacks resulting in casualties, the IDF has not yet raided the Beit Hanun area in northern Gaza, from where rockets were most recently fired at Sderot. For now, the IDF has sufficed with Operation Eastern Step in the Zeitun neighborhood of southern Gaza, its only operation so far. Troops moved into the area before dawn Saturday in reaction to the attack on the nearby Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza. The operation is expected to end shortly. The Israel Air Force also hit three Qassam launchers in Gaza Sunday that were ready for launching.

At the same time, the IDF is preparing for the possibility of a widespread operation that would include capturing a "security strip" in Palestinian towns in an attempt to improve security for the Katif settlement bloc in Gaza and for Sderot. However, such an operation depends on Sharon's decision.

Sharon met with IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon Sunday to discuss military operations, but as of press time they had decided against widespread activities.

In Cairo Sunday, senior Egyptian officials told Foreign Ministry director general Ron Prosor and the head of the Foreign Ministry's political desk, Yaki Dayan, that they should give Abbas more time to organize.

Prosor and Dayan told Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and presidential adviser Osama Al Baz that Abbas would have to move immediately against terror.

Abbas himself told the Japanese foreign minister during a meeting in Ramallah Sunday that Sharon is not giving him enough time to act. Abbas said he was committed to enforcing the rule of law and achieving a cease-fire. He said he planned to go to Gaza this week and hopes to reach an initial agreement with senior Hamas officials on reducing violence.

Japan is convinced, based on Israeli officials' hard-line comments over the weekend, that Sharon is exerting too much pressure and showing too little patience.

A senior IDF officer said that so far there has been no indication of Palestinian security forces acting against terror in Gaza.

"At least regarding Qassams and mortars no exceptional effort is needed from them," he said. "This fire is taking place right under their noses. All they need to do is deploy forces, and the fire will diminish immediately."

Meanwhile, two Palestinians - a mother and her son - were killed by IDF fire in Gaza last night. Palestinian sources said the woman, 50, and her 28-year-old son were apparently hit by an Israeli tank shell fired from Gush Katif. The father of the family and another son were wounded.

Qassam and mortar attacks continued Sunday. Two Qassam rockets landed in open areas near Sderot, and several mortar shells were fired at settlements and IDF posts in Gush Katif. A house in the settlement bloc was damaged in one of the mortar attacks.
by Critical Thinker
Monday Jan 17th, 2005 2:50 AM
into what should be objective coverage:

>>>"Militant factions have indicated they will only stop attacks if Israel does the same.

Mr Sharon's comments to his cabinet suggest that that is unlikely to happen, our correspondent says."<<<

The correspondent's opinion doesn't belong in a report.
by Sefarad
Tuesday Jan 18th, 2005 7:18 AM

A 17-year-old girl who was wounded on Saturday in Sderot is clinically dead.

Ella Abukasis was returning home from a meeting of a youth movement, together with her siblings and friends. The rocket landed near them.

Ella suffered severe head wounds from shrapnel. Her sister and friend were also wounded.

The girl had dived to shield her nine-year-old brother Tamir from the Qassam. The little boy is still in hospital.
by Sefarad
Tuesday Jan 18th, 2005 7:31 AM

Today the Palestinian terrorists continued firing mortar shells at communities in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians also fired three Qassam rockets at targets inside Israel proper.

In addition, the Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli Defense Forces outpost.

A bomb also exploded in the morning near Sufa crossing between Israel proper and Gaza Strip.