Arafat, Abbas Condemn ‘Terrorist Operations’
Arafat, Abbas Condemn ‘Terrorist Operations’ in Jerusalem,
PLO, PNA Urge ‘Immediate’ Ceasefire but Israel Doesn’t Reciprocate
Israeli Army Radio: IOF were ordered to “completely wipe out” Hamas with “whatever means necessary”
President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) on Wednesday condemned the “terrorist operations” against Palestinian and Israeli civilians and called on all Palestinian factions to declare an “immediate” ceasefire and a stop to all forms of operations.
“I strongly condemn the terrorist operation that targeted Israeli civilians in Jerusalem today, as strongly as I condemn the assassination attempt against our brother (Hamas political leader Abdul Aziz) al-Rantissi, and the Israeli terrorist aggressions before and after that against Palestinian civilians in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestinian areas, which claimed tens of dead and wounded, including eight killed just an hour ago of whom there were two unidentified women,” Arafat said in a televised speech.
President Arafat gave a live landmark speech on television from his battered Ramallah compound after one of the worst eruptions of violence in the 32-month-old Intifada against the 36-year old Israeli occupation, which left at least 30 people dead in two days.
He was referring to three Israeli extra-judicial assassinations of Palestinian activists by US-made Apache helicopters on Tuesday and Wednesday, which left at least 16 Palestinians dead, mostly bystanders of women and children, as well as to a bus bomb Wednesday that claimed the lives of 16 Israelis in central Jerusalem.
Twenty-nine Palestinians have been killed in extra-judicial Israeli assassinations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip since Palestinian-Israeli-US Aqaba summit meeting on June 4.
“This vicious circle of terrorist operations by all parties must stop now, and immediately,” Arafat stressed.
"I call on all Palestinian national and Islamic factions and groups to uphold their responsibilities, give priority to the higher interests of the Palestinian people and our Arab nation and to refuse being dragged into the trap which Israel is trying to drag us into, with the aim of undermining the chances to save the peace process, the peace of the brave.”
Arafat appealed to US President George W. Bush to intervene urgently to stop the deteriorating situation and save the peace process.
“I call on US President George Bush, who confirmed his personal commitment to the Quartet and the Arab leaders to work towards the implementation of the roadmap, to immediately and urgently intervene to stop this deterioration, to oblige Israel to implement the roadmap and to quickly send the international monitors.”
Earlier, PM Abbas issued a statement describing the situation in almost the same words.
“Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas condemns the terrorist attack which took place this afternoon in Jerusalem and also condemns the Israeli reaction in Gaza,” the statement said.
"The prime minister stresses that in order to stop the escalation, all parties should commit themselves to a ceasefire and take serious action to implement the roadmap," the statement added.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not reciprocate.
Sharon said Wednesday that Israel would continue its extra-judicial assassinations against Palestinian activists to the fullest extent while making “every effort” on peacemaking with the Palestinians.
“The State of Israel will pursue to the fullest extent the Palestinian terrorist groups and their leaders,'' Sharon said in a speech, but he added that Israel had a “deep commitment to make every effort to move forward with the diplomatic process which we hope will bring quiet and with God's help, peace.”
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestine National Authority (PNA) have consistently urged Israel to end the extra-judicial assassinations by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) as a prerequisite to calming down the deteriorating situation on the ground, but PM Sharon’s government has so far failed to reciprocate.
On the contrary, the Israeli government on Thursday morning announced it will persist in its assassination campaign, in particular against the political leaders, the activists and the infrastructure of Hamas and other Palestinian anti-Israeli occupation groups, which threatens more deterioration on the ground.
The IOF were ordered to "completely wipe out" the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” the army radio reported.
The order directed the Israeli military to use "whatever means necessary," following a meeting of “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz with the army's top command.