Home>News Center>World

Sharon threatens harsh measures against Palestinian violence
Updated: 2005-07-25 09:28

Israel will take harsh, even unprecedented countermeasures if Palestinians attack during next month's pullout from Gaza, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his Cabinet, after Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis on their way home from Gaza.

Speaking to his Cabinet on Sunday, just hours after Palestinian gunmen ambushed a convoy leading visitors out of Gaza Strip settlements, killing a Jerusalem couple, Sharon warned that if Palestinians attack settlers or security forces during the pullout, Israel's response will be unprecedented.

Sharon said he told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that "our reaction (to attacks) will be of a different kind, with the addition of very harsh means, both if it takes place during the evacuation, or after we evacuate the Gaza Strip."

Groups that claimed responsibility for the shooting included Islamic Jihad, the local Popular Resistance Committees and the Al Aqsa Martyears' Brigades, linked to the ruling Fatah party. Militant groups are trying to show that Israel's pullout from Gaza next month is a retreat under fire from Palestinian resistance, instead of a strategic Israeli decision.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz met Sunday night with Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Yousef, who commands the Palestinian forces _ the first high-level meeting since an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing July 12 killed five Israelis in the city of Netanya.

Mofaz demanded the Palestinians track down those responsible for the shooting attack, warning Yousef that if he didn't, Israel would, aides to Mofaz said.

The Palestinians complained that as in the past, they did not receive answers to their questions about the evacuation, according to a statement from Yousef's office.

The Israeli pullout is to begin in mid-August, and Sharon has said repeatedly he would not tolerate Palestinian violence then. Israeli soldiers and police are set to impose a wide security perimeter with several concentric circles _ several extending into Palestinian territory in Gaza if necessary to halt violence.

Military officials said that if there is violence, they would activate a plan code-named "Iron Fist," in which Israeli troops would strike deep into the Gaza Strip, capturing all the areas surrounding the settlements.

During more than four years of violence, Israel has carried out large-scale invasions of Gaza, bombed houses, fired missiles at suspected militants, fired tank shells, blocked roads and imposed closures.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said that maintaining calm during the pullout is in the Palestinian interest. On Saturday, Abbas repeated his pledge to Rice to rein in militants.

Early Sunday, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli motorists on the heavily guarded road from the Gush Katif bloc of settlements to the Kissufim crossing between Gaza and Israel. The shots killed a Jerusalem couple in their 50s. Five civilians were hurt, the army said.

After the ambush, troops clashed with the gunmen, killing both. Grenades and assault rifles were found on their bodies, the military said.

USS Park Royal crew await for Rice
Coffin of Milosevic flew to Belgrade
Kidnapping spree in Gaza Strip
  Today's Top News     Top World News

Australia, US, Japan praise China for Asia engagement



Banker: China doing its best on flexible yuan



Hopes high for oil pipeline deal



Possibilities of bird flu outbreaks reduced



Milosevic buried after emotional farewell



China considers trade contracts in India


  Journalist's alleged killers held in Iraq
  No poisons found in Milosevic's body
  US, Britain, France upbeat on Iran agreement
  Fatah officials call for Abbas to resign
  Sectarian violence increases in Iraq
  US support for troops in Iraq hits new low
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Abbas says meeting with Sharon needed
Sharon postpones Gaza pullout by three weeks
Sharon orders speedup in building barrier
Sharon meets with Rice on Gaza pullout
Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.