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Sharon Warns That Israel Remains Ready to Strike at Enemies - 2003-10-07

Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, says his country is ready at any time to strike its enemies, even across national boundaries. His comments come two days after Israeli warplanes targeted a suspected Palestinian terrorist base inside Syria.

Mr. Sharon issued his warning in the wake of Israel's bombing of a suspected Islamic Jihad training camp outside the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The operation was the first inside Syria for 21 years and came in response to an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing on Saturday in Israel's port city of Haifa that killed at least 19 people.

Mr. Sharon made his comments in an address on Tuesday marking 30 years since the 1973 Middle East war.

He said that Israel would not, in his words, be deterred from protecting its citizens and will strike its enemies in every place and in every way.

To mark the anniversary, Israel Radio is re-broadcasting reports of the 1973 war, when hostile Arab States, including Syria, launched surprise attacks on the Jewish state.

Mr. Sharon said one of the lessons of the 1973 Middle East war is that Israel must be prepared to defend itself at all times. His remarks came shortly after Syrian President Bashar Assad accused Israel on Tuesday of trying to drag the Middle East into a new regional war.

U.S. President George Bush says he supports Israel's right to defend itself, but he cautioned Mr. Sharon in a telephone conversation against taking any action that might cause an escalation of violence in the region.

Meanwhile, Israel has moved up more troops to its northern frontier after one of its soldiers was killed by gunfire from Lebanon.

Israel is holding Syria, which is the main power broker in Lebanon, ultimately responsible for the attack.