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Sharon: Arafat Dictating Terror Attacks Against Israel - 2002-03-31

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of dictating terror attacks against Israel. He made the comments in a brief live television broadcast to the Israeli people.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel is at war against terrorism. He says Israel must uproot the terrorist infrastructure before a ceasefire can be achieved with the Palestinians.

He calls Yasser Arafat an enemy of Israel and says Israel has stretched out its hand toward peace with the Palestinians, but not toward terror.

Prime Minister Sharon says his country is facing a decisive and difficult moment in its history but it will prevail.

Palestinian officials have condemned the speech as "void of substance and void of hope".

Prime Minister Sharon's five-minute televised address comes on a day of bloodshed in which suicide bombers attacked a restaurant in the Israeli port of Haifa and a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

There have been five suicide bombings since the start of the Jewish Passover holiday last Wednesday.

The last four bombings came after Israeli tanks on Friday plowed into Yasser Arafat's compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Troops and tanks still surround his three-story office building, confining the Palestinian leader, along with dozens of guards and staff, to a few rooms inside.

The military has imposed a 48-hour curfew on the city, while it hunts down terrorist suspects. Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian militants in several towns and villages in the West Bank throughout the day Sunday.

Mr. Sharon says the military campaign is aimed at hitting "the foundations of terror" that he had demanded Mr. Arafat destroy. The Israeli leader does not say how long the military operations will last.