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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 07:26 GMT
Bush pledges Mid-East peace moves
Wreck of Palestinian car targeted by Israelis
The bloodshed has continued unabated
US President George W Bush has said he will redouble his efforts to end the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Speaking at a joint news conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Mr Bush praised recent peace initiatives by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Both our countries view this situation with great alarm, we're both determined to redouble our efforts to work for peace

George W Bush

But no agreement was reached on new steps to end the conflict.

In a separate development, reports from Saudi Arabia say that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has backed the Saudi peace plan.

Meanwhile, bloodshed in the region has been continuing without let-up.

Five Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces launched a pre-dawn raid on the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources.

It came hours after Palestinian militants in Gaza fired two home-made Qassam-2 rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot for the first time, injuring two children.

The Intifada
  • Began September 2000
  • Palestinian frustration at peace process boiled over when Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif
  • About 1,000 Palestinians and 300 Israelis killed in 17 months of violence
  • Peace negotiations stalled, new Saudi proposal raises some hopes

    See also:
      Q&A: Cycle of violence   In Depth section

  • Two Palestinians were killed by tank fire in northern Gaza, and three others were killed when Israeli tanks entered the village of Karrara near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.

    A Palestinian policeman also died from his wounds after Israeli gunboats pounded Palestinian security positions in northern Gaza on Tuesday night, Palestinian doctors said.

    In eastern Gaza City, Israeli forces demolished Palestinian checkpoints overnight while Israeli troops moved towards the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip early on Wednesday morning, witnesses said.

    Palestinian security officials said 27 Palestinians were arrested by Israeli forces in overnight raids.

    Day of violence

    The Israeli offensive followed an upsurge of violence on Tuesday.

    An Israeli woman was killed in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed an Israeli and wounded 17 others in the northern Israeli town of Afula.

    Earlier, a Palestinian gunman killed three Israelis and wounded 25 others at a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

    Two Palestinian militants were killed in Israeli rockets attack on Ramallah in the West Bank, while Israeli helicopter gunships hit Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Tuesday night.

    'Maximum effort'

    Mr Bush said that both countries viewed the current escalation of the conflict "with great alarm" and felt "deep sympathy" for the region's people.

    But he did not respond directly to an impassioned plea by Mr Mubarak to intervene in the conflict with or without support of the Israelis or Palestinians.

    Funeral in Rishon-Lezion near Tel Aviv
    Israelis have been stunned by the latest upsurge in violence

    He said that peace in the Middle East was only possible if there was a maximum effort by both sides, but added that this had to start with Palestinian efforts to stop attacks on Israelis.

    Mr Mubarak said that as the Palestinians were being asked to stop the violence, the Israelis should end such tactics as demolishing Palestinian homes, besieging towns and villages, and closing roads.

    The BBC's Barbara Plett
    "For diplomacy to work, there has to be a break in the violence"
    President George W Bush
    "President Mubarak has a long history of advancing peace in the Middle East"
    Fatah representative Marwan Barghouti
    "We are facing a war from the Israeli side"
    Israeli Minister of Justice Meir Shitreet
    "We will take every step necessary to stop the terror attacks"
    See also:

    05 Mar 02 | Middle East
    Head to head: Mid-East violence surges
    05 Mar 02 | Middle East
    Egypt pushes for Mid-East summit
    05 Mar 02 | Middle East
    Assad discusses Arab peace moves
    04 Mar 02 | Media reports
    Israeli cabinet clash over Arafat
    03 Mar 02 | Middle East
    Israel on the defensive
    20 Feb 02 | Middle East
    Q&A: Middle East conflict
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