Israel unleashes airstrikes hitting Arafat's compound
Wednesday, December 5, 2001
RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Israel used bombs and missiles Tuesday to pressure Yasser Arafat to move against Palestinian militants, striking just yards from the Palestinian leader's West Bank offices and in the Gaza Strip. Two Palestinians were killed and about 150 were injured in the attacks.
The campaign stirred opposition from moderate Labor Party members of Israel's ruling coalition, who boycotted a Cabinet vote on tougher action against the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government said it was sending a stern warning to the Palestinian leader that there would be even harsher reprisals if he did not crack down on militants who have been attacking Israelis.
"The purpose was to send a clear military message .... 'Friends, we've had enough, take the responsibility that you have and stop the terrorism,'" said the Israeli army spokesman, Brig. Gen. Ron Kitrey.
The air attacks came in response to weekend bombings and shooting attacks on Israelis by Islamic militants that killed 26 people and wounded nearly 200. Kitrey said Tuesday's raids targeted Palestinian Authority installations because the Islamic militants' headquarters "are secret and cannot be hit in this type of attack."