Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed to carry out a “broad and nonstop” offensive in the Palestinian territories in retaliation to the Hadera suicide bombing which was carried out on Wednesday afternoon.
“The operation in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be wide and nonstop”, Sharon said, “The Palestinian Authority did not take any serious actions against the armed groups”.
On Wednesday at night, the Israeli government approved a major military operation in the occupied territories, yet Israeli military sources reported that there are no immediate plans to carry a massive ground operation.
Earlier on Thursday morning, Israeli Air force shelled several areas in the Gaza Strip; the army claims that the shelled locations were used by the resistance to fire homemade shells against Israeli sites.
The strike came only two hours after an earlier shelling carried out by the army in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Soldiers also shelled a bridge leading to Beit Hanoun, and another area said to be used by the resistance for firing homemade shells.
Israeli Defense Ministry decided to target the Islamic Jihad movement which claimed responsibility for the Hadera bombing on Wednesday. The decision came after the movement claimed responsibility for the attack which left five Israelis killed and 30 injured.
Meanwhile, the movement said that the bombing was conducted in retaliation to assassinating its military wing head Loay Al Saadi, in the West Bank.
Earlier on Thursday, soldiers closed the Palestinian areas, and installed additional roadblocks barring the residents from crossing.
Soldiers arrested six residents in the West Bank city of Qalqilia and the nearby village of Anza. Ahmad Hasan Abu Zeid, 60, the father of the suicide bomber Hasan, was among the arrestees.
During a Thursday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, Sharon slammed that Palestinian National Authority, and claimed that it failed to carry serious measures against the armed groups, “therefore, Israel would continue its operations”.
Also, Israeli security officials charged that the Islamic Jihad in Syria and the Palestinian areas are planning further attacks against Israel.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei said that the Israeli operations are only inflaming the situation and driving the area into further violence.
Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, strongly condemned the operation which also harms the Palestinian national interests, and weakens the Palestinian position.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called on Abbas to control the resistance factions, and stop their activities; Rice phones Abbas and discussed Wednesday’s suicide bombing.