Israel steps up offensive in West Bank territory Essay

This essay has a total of 718 words and 6 pages.

Israel steps up offensive in West Bank territory

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Israeli forces killed eight Palestinians, including two policemen
early today, during their latest incursion into Palestinian territory, and Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon vowed to wage a "massive campaign" against Islamic extremists in
Gaza.


The two Palestinian policemen were killed when Israeli troops stormed the Palestinian
government headquarters in the West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinian security officials
said. Eight other policemen were wounded.












The Israeli military said soldiers entered Hebron to operate against the "terrorist
infrastructure" there. A military statement said a "large number" of suspects had been
arrested. Also, soldiers said they discovered an explosives laboratory.


Residents said soldiers declared a curfew over the city.

Six other Palestinians were killed by helicopter missile strikes yesterday, including four
members of the militant group Hamas, the group said. Israel said a senior Hamas activist
was among those killed.


Israeli troops encircled Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters early
yesterday for the third time this month.


The latest turmoil came as President Bush called for a new Palestinian leadership - one
"not compromised by terror" - and set stiff conditions for a Palestinians state.


Sharon echoed Bush's call for new leadership, but Arafat aide Saeb Erekat said the demand
was "not acceptable." Arafat himself welcomed Bush's ideas as a "serious effort to push
the peace process forward" in a statement that ignored the call for a leadership change.


As progress is made on security matters, Bush said, Israel should remove its forces from
West Bank areas under Palestinian control before violence erupted in September 2000.
Israeli forces now control six of the eight main Palestinian cities and towns in the West
Bank: Jenin, Nablus, Qalqiliya, Ramallah, Tulkarem and Bethlehem. Hebron could be the
seventh, leaving just Jericho.


At least 600,000 Palestinians in the West Bank are confined to their homes by army
curfews. Restrictions were briefly lifted in Nablus and Qalqiliya so residents could shop
and go to school.


A major six-week military offensive earlier this year aimed at wiping out militias behind
terror attacks also focused on the West Bank, leaving the Gaza Strip - where top militia
leaders are based - largely unscathed. This time, Sharon warned that Gaza would not be
spared.


"We are preparing massive activity against Hamas in the Strip," Sharon said, adding that
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