Arafat Defiant after Israeli Air Strikes
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said Tuesday his people would not be deterred by the latest wave of Israel's helicopter attacks on targets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as his cabinet called on the international community to seek a halt to the "military escalation."
"All of these attacks against Fateh and the Palestinian Authority will not frighten even a Palestinian boy carrying a stone to defend Jerusalem, capital of Palestine," Arafat said.
"We will act according to our conscience and our courageousness and what can serve the Palestinian position," he told reporters during a tour of the bombed sites in the Gaza Strip.
Arafat convened his cabinet overnight after Israeli helicopter gunships bombed Palestinian security posts and the headquarters of his political faction Fateh and its armed militia in late-night strikes.
"We appeal to the United Nations, the international community, the Arab world, the European Union, China, Japan and the sponsors of the peace process to immediately intervene and use all of their authority against these aggressions and this dangerous Israeli military escalation that risks the security and peace in the Middle East," said a statement from the Palestinian leadership carried by the official news agency Wafa.
Palestinian legislative council speaker Ahmed Qorei also condemned the attacks.
"Fateh will not accept this and it will face it by all means," he told reporters in the West Bank town of el-Bireh.
"Israel wants to impose its terms of solution on the Palestinians by force. They want both land and peace together. If they want to go back to the peace process, they should find a new mechanism that would guarantee achieving peace and guaranteeing it will not be threatened again," he added.
Qorei also said that the peace process required international participation, not only mediation from the United States, which many Arabs consider too pro-Israeli.
The raids came after two Israelis were killed in attacks in and around Jerusalem Monday and after the army pledged to take the "initiative" in clashes with Palestinians.
Israel warned on Tuesday it could inflict "even harder blows" against the Palestinians following the overnight strikes – GAZA CITY (AFP)
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