- (AFP) - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed that Israel
will fight the Palestinians to the finish after 13 soldiers were killed
in an epic battle at a West Bank refugee camp.
- Facing Israel's biggest one-day army loss since the Palestinian
uprising began 18 months ago, the former general defied US calls to pull
back his troops and said they would fight until the "terrorist infrastructure"
- "This battle is a battle for the survival of the
Jewish people and the state of Israel," public radio quoted Sharon
- The dramatic events darkened hopes for the peace mission
of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, on the second day of a foreign tour
aimed at keeping the conflict from erupting into a regional war.
- Sharon again dismissed demands from US President George
W. Bush to ease the campaign, and moved to consolidate his political clout
by sidelining dovish Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who once shared the
Nobel Peace Prize with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
- An army spokesman said 13 reservists were killed in the
battle at Jenin refugee camp, where Palestinian militants have mounted
a fierce resistance to the Israeli onslaught of tanks, troops and aerial
- A first group was killed when a booby-trapped building
blew up as they entered it, and the rest gunned down as they ran to rescue
their comrades, the spokesman said. Seven soldiers were wounded, at least
- Sharon, a hardliner who has seen his popularity ratings
soar since launching the assault on the West Bank on March 29, said there
could be no let-up in Israel's fight against Palestinian terror attacks.
- Israeli tanks and troops earlier Tuesday withdrew from
the towns of Qalqilya and Tulkarem but strengthened a blockade around them
and poured into the village of Dura, where at least three Palestinians
- "The fight against terrorist organisations will
go on until their infrastructures are destroyed," Sharon said.
- The 13 deaths shocked a military that prides itself on
minimal casualties. The army had earlier acknowledged only 13 dead since
the beginning of the campaign.
- Amid the explosion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
Bush has been trying to map out Washington's Middle East strategy after
the September 11 attacks in the United States, which he warns could include
an attack on Iraq.
- He has been pressing the Arab world to use its influence
to rein in Islamic militants and especially to get Arafat to halt anti-Israel
- The Saudi crown prince reportedly set three conditions
for Saudi help in the US peace bid: complete withdrawal, Israeli help in
rebuilding Palestinian infrastructure and the presence of US monitors.
- Arab and Islamic nations have reacted furiously to the
Israeli army campaign. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein cut off all Iraqi
oil exports for a month.
- In Jordan, one of only three Arab countries to have relations
with Israel, King Abdullah II warned that those ties were at stake.
- Israeli forces remain in place in many villages and the
major towns of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jenin and in Nablus, where the army
said it had taken control and arrested several hundred Palestinians on
- In another sign of Sharon's determination, the right-winger
scrapped his so-called kitchen cabinet, made up of himself, Peres and Defence
Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer, officials said.
- He replaced it with a body made up of all the party leaders
in his newly-expanded cabinet, into which he drafted far-right ministers
on Tuesday. The move effectively sidelines the peace-minded Peres.
- In Bethlehem, a standoff between Israeli troops and around
200 Palestinian gunmen holed up in the Church of the Nativity, one of Christianity's
holiest sites, went into a second week.
- Fears of a second front in the campaign intensified Monday
night when Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired Katyusha rockets and mortar
bombs on Israeli army positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms border area.
Israeli warplanes raided south Lebanon in reply.
- Sharon's refusal to pull out set off a flurry of diplomatic
manoeuvring ahead of Powell's arrival. US envoy Anthony Zinni met with
Sharon on Monday night, while Erakat said a Palestinian delegation would
meet with Zinni later.
- Palestinian leaders were also given permission to meet
with Arafat, holed up in his West Bank offices of Ramallah since the campaign
began. It was not immediately clear if the meeting would still be allowed
to go ahead. ___
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- From David Cohen
- I wonder how many Americans realize how little Bush is
doing (being allowed to do) to stop Israel? Is he going to Congress to
demand a cutoff of the $8 billion US taxpayer dollars given to Israel every
year? (which is obviously paying for the Israeli invasion and Jenin 'massacre'
- as Shimon Peres termed it today). No, Bush is doing essentially nothing.
He even delayed Powell's arrival to give Sharon time to 'finish up'...but
Sharon needs more time and is not about to be hurried in his attempts to
kill off Palestinians, as he makes clear in the above news story.
- And what of the Arab world? Not a single country has
even gone as far as cutting off diplomatic relations with Israel. This
points to just how much control the NWO has over many/most Arab countries.
It should be patently obvious now that the Bush administration is either:
1. a de facto partner with Sharon in the continuing invasion, or 2. utterly
powerless to influence Sharon's policies.
- And let's not forget: Israel is the world's #3 or #4
nuclear super power...