Sharon says Israel resolved to strike Hamas in Gaza Strip as reoccupation of West Bank cities almost completed
Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Tuesday that Israel has no intention of recapturing the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported. "Whoever thinks that Gaza needs to be recaptured understands nothing," Sharon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committe.
At the same time, the Israeli leader said that the Gaza Strip could not serve as a headquarters for Hamas. "We do not need to be inside Gaza, but whoever thinks that there needs to be a Hamas center in Gaza is wrong," he said." "Israel will make every effort to strike a hard blow to such a center," he added.
The prime minister seemed to be toning down comments he made the previous day, when he said during a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset that Israel was "preparing to launch a massive operation in the Gaza Strip against the Hamas organization….”
Meanwhile, Israeli troops took over the seventh of the West Bank's eight major cities Tuesday. Smoke billowed over Hebron when the Israeli army blew up a building within the municipal compound. Israeli soldiers exchanged heavy gunfire with Palestinian police inside the compound throughout the day, and four officers were reported killed. Security officials said about 200 Palestinian officers had been detained.
The only major West Bank town free of Israeli troops was Jericho, isolated in the Jordan Valley.
The Israeli army has barred journalists from all the key cities and towns it has entered, but the army escorted a group to the outskirts of Nablus near the Balata refugee camp Tuesday. The city was under curfew and looked largely deserted. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)