BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Sunday, 23 June, 2002, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Israel boosts West Bank force
Israeli search in village of Beitunia on edge of Ramallah
Israel denies it is usurping the Palestinian Authority
Israel has called up 2,000 army reservists as troops take control of five major Palestinian towns in the West Bank.

In the latest incursion, about 60 Israeli armoured vehicles pushed into Qalqilya on Sunday.

Troops have also moved back into Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm.

A senior Israeli defence official, Amos Yaron, warned of a "crushing offensive" to halt Palestinian suicide bombings.

Israel radio said on Sunday that the government was considering deporting families of suicide bombers from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip.

Ruling West Bank

The Israeli Defence Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, denied that the Israeli military planned to take over civil administration in Palestinian areas.

Map of six Palestinian towns raided by Israeli forces
He was quoted as saying he wanted a deployment of no more than six months, and that the troops were not involved in a punitive mission.

Earlier, Palestinian cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said Israel was destroying the Palestinian Authority "to replace [it] with the Israeli civil administration and Israeli military government".

The Israeli security cabinet has said the army will remain in Palestinian areas for as long as necessary to stop further attacks on Israelis.

Clashes

The offensive is a response to Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem and an attack on the Jewish settlement of Itamar in the West Bank which killed 36 Israelis last week.

Israeli border police patrol on Tel Aviv beach
Israel has boosted security since the suicide bombings
In the latest clashes, a Palestinian policeman was killed on Sunday in a gun battle with Israeli troops near Jenin, Palestinian sources said.

On Friday Israeli tanks opened fire on a market in Jenin, killing three Palestinian children and a man and wounding 26 others who wrongly thought a curfew had been lifted. The army later admitted it had made a mistake.

The Israeli offensive is on a much smaller scale than the assaults Israel launched in the West Bank in April and May, correspondents say.

Bush delays speech

An army statement on Sunday said that "due to the security situation, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) is calling up a brigade of reservists".

Amid the continuing turmoil, US President George Bush has postponed a long-awaited announcement of a plan to revive peace talks.

The BBC's Caroline Hawley in Ramallah says there is no indication yet that Israel wants to take over civil administration in Palestinian areas.

But the offensive means a more intrusive Israeli military presence in Palestinians' everyday lives, she says.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security forces arrested about a dozen activists of the Islamic militant group Hamas on Sunday, Palestinian sources said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Wood
"The Israelis say they will be in the West Bank for as long as it takes"

Key stories

Profiles

FACTFILE

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

23 Jun 02 | Middle East
21 Jun 02 | Middle East
19 Jun 02 | Middle East
18 Jun 02 | Middle East
17 Jun 02 | Middle East
02 Dec 01 | profiles
18 Jun 02 | Middle East
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes