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October 25, 2002

Israel seeks revenge in Jenin

I had thought Israeli was going to wait till the U.S. attacked Iraq but once again, tit for tat. Is there an end in sight?
Hundreds of soldiers backed by scores of heavy military vehicles have entered the West Bank city of Jenin as Israel retaliated for a suicide car bombing that killed 14 Israelis earlier this week.

A senior Israeli commander said the operation, dubbed "Vanguard," was aimed at rooting out some 20 militants in the city of some 250,000.

He said it was the largest such operation since August, when Israel responded to a Jerusalem university bombing that killed seven by sending tanks into Nablus, killing three Palestinians.

"This operation is an outgrowth of this week's suicide car bombing," said the commander. On Monday a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 14 when he detonated explosives packed into a car next to a bus on a road between Tel Aviv and Haifa.

Israel initially held back retaliation, apparently at the request of the United States, which is seeking to avoid a flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict out of concern it could jeopardise Arab support for any strike in Iraq.

The raid into Jenin came just hours after U.S. envoy William Burns met with Palestinian and Israeli officials in what seemed to be an almost futile attempt to halt violence which has raged since the Palestinian uprising for independence started in September 2000. He is due to hold more talks on Friday.

"Our intelligence indicates that the bombing encouraged the terrorist cell in Jenin, which is now rearming and winning new recruits," a senior Israeli commander told reporters.