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Israel Calls Up Reserves to Expand Operations in Palestinian Territories - 2002-06-20


Israel has begun calling up reserve soldiers as it widens its military operation in Palestinian-ruled areas of the West Bank. The military moves are in response to two suicide bombings in Jerusalem that killed at least 26 Israelis.

The Israeli army has issued emergency orders for what is being described as a limited call-up of reserves as the military expands its raids and re-occupation of Palestinian-controlled towns and villages in the West Bank.

Some of the soldiers are expected to be deployed along the so-called Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank, in an effort to keep Palestinian militants from infiltrating into the Jewish state.

In response to two suicide bombings this week in Jerusalem, Israeli soldiers moved into Bethlehem, the nearby Dheisheh refugee camp, a suburb of Ramallah and Tulkarm.

Hospital officials have said a pregnant Palestinian woman was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli troops and gunmen in Qalqilya.

Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold said the military will continue to operate in Palestinian areas as long as the suicide attacks continue.

"Until there is a change of behavior on the other side, until they can take responsibility for areas under their jurisdiction, we have no choice but to move into certain areas that will improve our ability to prevent infiltrations into Israel," Mr. Gold said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has renewed his call for an end to all attacks against Israeli civilians.

Mr. Arafat warned that if the attacks do not stop, the result might be a "full Israeli occupation" of the Palestinian territories. "It is our permanent message, especially to our people and to the whole world, that we are against any of these terrorist activities against civilians, Palestinian civilians or Israeli civilians," Mr. Arafat said.

Members of the militant Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups rejected Mr. Arafat's request, saying they will continue to launch assaults inside Israel.

Israeli military commentators said Israel's decision this week to re-occupy some Palestinian areas could create numerous problems.

They said calling up reserves is costly at a time when Israel's economy is on the brink of recession and the military would have to set up a new bureaucracy to provide services for Palestinian civilians.

During Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, before the gradual troop pullbacks from Palestinian towns in the mid-1990s, Israel's military controlled most aspects of Palestinian life, from issuing birth certificates to running schools.

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