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Israel to 'Step Up' Operations Against Hamas

Voice of America

VOA News
13 Jun 2003, 12:05 UTC

Israeli news reports say leaders of the Jewish state are preparing to escalate operations against the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The reports say Israel's targets will include leaders of Hamas, including the group's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

Meanwhile, two Israeli newspapers are carrying reports Friday, quoting a Hamas spokesman who says "every Israeli has become a target" for his group's attacks.

The increased militance on both sides follows a sharp increase in deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians this week, just before the arrival of another American delegation trying to move the "road map" for peace forward. U.S. diplomat John Wolf, who has been assigned to oversee implementation of the road map plan, is to leave Washington for Jerusalem on Saturday.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell plans to meet in Jordan on June 22 with representatives of the United Nations, European Union and Russia, who drafted the road map together with the United States. Mr. Powell conferred by telephone Thursday with several Arab leaders, asking them to speak out and stop the transfer of funds to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups, organizations, he said, that are determined to use terror to stop peace.

The bloodshed this week included a suicide bombing Wednesday by Hamas that killed 16 Israelis, and Israeli helicopter strikes on Gaza City that killed 17 Palestinians, including several Hamas members. Other clashes have occurred since then.

The road map calls for an end to violence and a series of reciprocal steps by Israelis and Palestinians leading to the creation of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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