Thursday, May 15, 2003

Israeli tanks pour into Gaza

BBC News, excerpts: "The Israeli army has launched a large-scale offensive in the Gaza Strip, in what is being seen as a fresh blow to US efforts to push a new peace plan for the region. About 50 tanks and helicopters entered the northern town of Beit Hanoun, leaving four Palestinians dead - including a 12-year-old boy, according to Palestinian witnesses. The Israelis say the raid was launched after dozens of mortar bombs and rockets were fired at Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and the southern Israeli town of Sderot in recent days."

"The incursion comes on Nakba, which Palestinians describe as "Catastrophe day" - when they mark the anniversary of the displacement that accompanied the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. It also comes two days before the first meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his counterpart Mahmoud Abbas - widely known as Abu Mazen. Thursday's raid on Beit Hanoun was the largest Israeli operation in recent months."

"Witnesses say Israeli bulldozers destroyed four homes belonging to suspected militants. They say the Palestinians killed in the raid included two men and a 12-year-old boy. According to doctors, the boy was left to bleed to death, as Israeli troops prevented paramedics from reaching the scene. The Israeli army said it knew nothing about the circumstances of the boy's death ... "

"Mr Sharon has said that in its present form the roadmap does not sufficiently address Israel's security concerns. On Tuesday he said the key question of Jewish settlements was not up for imminent discussion. The Palestinian prime minister has said he will not move against militants unless the Israelis drop their reservations about the roadmap." >>Full story...

ROADMAP MAIN POINTS
Phase 1 (to May 2003): End of terrorism, normalisation of Palestinian life and Palestinian political reform; Israeli withdrawal and end of settlement activity; Palestinian elections
Phase 2: (June-Dec 2003) Creation of an independent Palestinian state; international conference and international monitoring of compliance with roadmap
Phase 3 (2004-2005): Second international conference; permanent status agreement and end of conflict; agreement on final borders, Jerusalem, refugees and settlements; Arab states to agree to peace deals with Israel

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