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Israel accuses Hamas of 'terror escalation'
Cat : Israel and Zionism
Date : 2006-07-05 12:03:40                      Reader : 317
When Palestinians defend themselves with traditional arms it is terrorism ?! Who is occupying the lands of whom ?! who expelled the people out of their homeland ? Who rubbed the map of the other ? Who is superiorly armed ? Who wants peace and who wants war ? Israel must be punished by UN charter article 7 as Israel challenges more then 60 resolutions .
 
 
Associated France Press (AFP) 5/7/2006
Israel accuses Hamas of ’terror escalation’
 
 
 
by Kerry Sheridan

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel accused Hamas of inciting a grave "escalation in terror," after a Hamas-fired rocket struck an Israeli school, and vowed more military action to release a captured soldier.

The attack caused no casualties but marked the first time a Qassam rocket had landed inside the town of Ashkelon, signaling an upgrade in militants’ weaponry and sparking fresh words of warning from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

"This strike on the heart of Ashkelon is a very serious incident which constitutes an escalation of unprecedented gravity in the campaign of terror waged by Hamas, which leads the Palestinian Authority," Olmert said.

Olmert did not specify what actions his government would take, but promised to convene a meeting of security officials Wednesday after having earlier vowed to continue an offensive aimed at freeing a captive conscript.

Following the expiry of an ultimatum set by the corporal’s Palestinian captors, Olmert again ruled out any negotiations with militants and promised to strike anyone linked to them, in a thinly veiled reference to Syria.

Israel said its soldier was alive, after the captors of 19-year-old Gilad Shalit, seized nine days ago and wounded in a Palestinian raid, had set a 6:00 am (0300 GMT) Tuesday deadline with demands that Israel release prisoners or "face the consequences."

"I gave the order to continue operations to strike terrorists, those who protect them and those who give them orders," Olmert said.

"We will hit all terrorists. No one who attempts to harm the state of Israel will be spared," he said, implicitly blaming Syria which Israel accuses of harboring militants including Hamas political supremo Khaled Meshaal.

Israel has sent tanks and troops back into the Gaza Strip for the first time since leaving last September after a 38-year occupation in a bid to free its soldier, leaving the premier staring down the barrel of the worst crisis of his two-month leadership.

With 5,000 troops massed on the Gaza border poised for a threatened full-scale onslaught, Olmert has rejected militant demands for Israel to release 1,000 prisoners as well as Palestinian women and minors.

"We do not negotiate with terrorists. We act with all the necessary force but we do not give in to blackmail," he said.

The shadowy Army of Islam, one of three groups that claims to be holding Shalit in the Gaza Strip, said he would not be killed.

"Some people thought that the groups that carried out the operation will kill him, but our Islamic values tell us that prisoners should be respected and not killed," said spokesman Abu Muthanna.

The group, together with the armed wing of the governing Hamas movement and the Popular Resistance Committees, snatched Shalit in a raid on an army post on June 25 in which two other soldiers and two militants were killed.

"We gave an ultimatum and it has expired, all the efforts have failed. The enemy now bears the responsibility for the consequences of its position on the fate of the soldier," Abu Muthanna said.

The prime minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian government, Ismail Haniya, said his administration continued to appeal for "the need to preserve the life of the kidnapped Israeli soldier and treat him well".

The armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, has threatened to resume attacks inside Israel after an 18-month truce, warning of a "sea of blood" should the military assault on Gaza continue.

One of its militants was killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip early Tuesday, on the seventh straight night of an air campaign launched in a bid to force Shalit’s release.

The same group claimed responsibility for the rocket attack, which it said was launched in response to "Israeli aggression," adding: "We will teach the occupation a lesson they will never forget."

An army spokeswoman said the rocket had been modified to give it a longer range.

In Israel, right-wing Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to push for a harsh government response.

"Each time the Palestinians reach a new threshold in terrorism. We have to prevent such rocket fire and reinforce Israel’s deterrent capabilities, and we will press the government for this," he said.

Israeli troops operating on the edges of northern Gaza towns shot and wounded two electricians trying to fix a telephone line near the northern crossing point of Erez, Palestinian security and medical sources said.

The latest salvos in the crisis came after the three factions that seized the conscript issued their ultimatum over the prisoner swap.

"If the enemy does not meet the demands we laid out in our previous statement... we will consider the matter closed and the enemy will be responsible for all results," they had said.

The captors never explicitly said they would kill Shalit, who is believed to have been wounded in the army post attack and to be held in southern Gaza.

The international community has issued appeals for restraint in the worst crisis in the Middle East since Hamas came to power in March and Olmert formally took the Israeli helm in May.

France and Britain appealed for calm and diplomacy to prevail, as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran condemned the "Israeli escalation."

On Tuesday, Washington insisted a return to peace had "to begin with the return of the Israeli soldier."

The UN’s Middle East envoy warned that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, with a population of 1.4 million, had become "dangerous" after Israel knocked out a power station last week.

Warning of the risk of water-born diseases without proper water distribution, sanitation and sewage system, Alvaro de Soto urged Israel to restore fuel supplies and "cooperate energetically" to get the transformers replaced.

But Israel insisted Gazans were suffering no shortage of basic necessities, saying it had shipped in large quantities of food, petrol and medical supplies.

Israel has conducted raids against mainly Hamas targets over the past week, including a missile strike against prime minister Haniya’s office that has sent much of the cabinet into hiding.


 
 
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