Israel's hardline opposition leader Ariel Sharon accused the Palestinians on Wednesday of unleashing a war against Israel which requires a much tougher retaliation.
"The Palestinians have set off a real war against us and we must respond according to the adage 'To war as to war'," Sharon said during a visit to the Gaza Strip settlemeent bloc of Gush Katif, his spokesman said.
"We haven't done all we can against armed Palestinians who are taking out our civilians and our soldiers," he said.
Sharon also accused Prime Minister Ehud Barak of being weak in the face of the violence across the Palestinian territories that has claimed the lives of more than 262 people, most of them Palestinians.
A total of 29 Israeli civilians and soldiers have been killed.
Sharon on Tuesday called for the "elimination" of the head of Palestinian preventative security in the Gaza strip, Colonel Mohammed Dahlan, who responded by calling the Likud party leader a killer.
Israeli military and internal security officials accused Arafat's Palestinian Authority -- singling out Dahlan -- for responsibility in the bombing Monday of a schoolbus carrying Israeli children in the Gaza strip.
The attack left two Jewish settlers dead and nine people wounded, including five children.
Palestinians blame Sharon for sparking the violence in the Palestinian territories with a provocative visit September 28 to the Jerusalem mosque compound or Temple Mount, a site that is sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
A former Israeli defense minister, Sharon is reviled around the Arab world for his role in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during which more than 1,000 Palestinian refugees were massacred by pro-Israeli militias -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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