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Saturday, 30 March, 2002, 11:44 GMT
Sharon's strong-arm tactic
Israeli soldier
Sharon has called up 20,000 army reserves
test hello test
By the BBC's Paul Wood
Middle East correspondent
line

"This is a war, and we should fight like we are in a war" - it's an opinion you hear every day from Israelis.

One Israeli commentator spoke of being "under a suffocating personal siege from the suicide bombers".


Some say Mr Sharon has no strategy

The country, he said, was on the verge of the abyss, and the world was against Israel, just as on the eve of the six-day war.

Ariel Sharon has not only ordered the biggest military operation for 20 years, he has also called up some 20,000 army reserves.

He has warned in unambiguous terms that the push into the West Bank will continue for weeks rather than days.

Occupation

There are plans to occupy other Palestinian towns, not just Ramallah.

To what end?

Yasser Arafat
Netanyahu wants Arafat expelled
Some say Mr Sharon has no strategy, that he has to do something to fend off the right-wing challenge from the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who calls for Mr Arafat to be removed from power and expelled.

Others believe Mr Sharon intends carving up the nascent Palestinian state into a series of tiny pieces of territory, which could never threaten Israel.

The stated aim of the operation is to force Yasser Arafat to call off the suicide bombers.

But Palestinian officials say the bombers cannot just be turned off.

They say that Palestinian rage and humiliation caused by this latest Israeli assault can only mean more carnage inside Israel's borders

See also:

30 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel traps Arafat in ravaged HQ
29 Mar 02 | Middle East
US plea to halt Mid-East carnage
29 Mar 02 | Middle East
Eyewitness: Jerusalem supermarket bomb
29 Mar 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Unremitting conflict
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Arabs offer Israelis peace plan
28 Mar 02 | Middle East
Bush condemns 'callous' killing
02 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are the suicide bombers?
21 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
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