The Israeli military is continuing to pour forces into a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank sparking more heavy clashes that have killed at least 14 Palestinians and one Israeli soldier in the two-day operation.
Witnesses say an Israeli combat helicopter spewing heavy machine gunfire provided cover for tanks and infantry soldiers to push deeper into the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
The raid led to gun battles between troops and Palestinian militants inside the camp.
Witnesses say Israeli soldiers are going from house-to-house, making arrests and searching for weapons.
The Israeli military is conducting its unprecedented assaults on the Jenin camp and on the Balata refugee camp outside the nearby city of Nablus.
It is the first time Israel has launched large attacks on refugee camps since the current conflict with the Palestinians began more than 17-months ago.
Israeli military sources say the camps have been a safe haven for terrorist organizations that produce weapons used in attacks and suicide bombings against Israelis.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres justified the incursions, saying the army is trying to "intercept human bombs before they are launched on Israel."
Public Security Minister Uzi Landau blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for letting the militants operate inside the camps. "Suicide bombers are continuing to be sent by Mr. Arafat and we continue to intercept them. We shall continue to combat terrorism until we totally destroy it," Landau said.
Palestinians say the Israeli raids are designed to destroy a land-for-peace initiative recently proposed by Saudi Arabia that has received support from the international community.
Meanwhile, a public opinion poll published in the Ma'ariv newspaper shows for the first time a majority of Israelis, 53-percent, are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's performance.
Commentary accompanying the survey says Mr. Sharon is caught in the middle, with right-wingers accusing him of not being tough enough on the Palestinians and left-wingers believing he has been too harsh.
Nearly 1,000 Palestinians and 300 Israelis have died since the uprising against Israeli occupation erupted in September 2000.