Israel: March 12, 2002

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The violence has gotten worse, with over 180 dead so far this month (50 Israelis, the rest Palestinians) Israel has introduced more aggressive tactics against the Palestinians. Troops are now going into Palestinian towns in force. House to house searches are conducted. The Israelis are looking for specific Palestinians known to be involved in attacks on Israelis, as well as the workshops where bombs and rockets are made. Over a thousand Palestinians have been arrested, and the questioning of these will provide more information. In some areas, the Israelis are rounding up all male Palestinians 15-45 years of age. It is thought that there are many illegal occupants of Palestinian towns and refugee camps. It has long been rumored that some al Qaeda operations have moved from Afghanistan to Palestinian territory.

The scope of the Israeli military operations is the largest since the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

The families of suicide bombers are also being punished. Their homes are being destroyed. The suicide program is driven partly by the financial rewards provided for the suicide bombers family. By punishing the families, recruiting suicide bombers becomes a little harder.

Given the damage being done, the Palestinians are fighting back to protect their sanctuaries, especially the refugee camps. But the Israeli troops are better trained, equipped and led. Palestinians inflict few casualties on Israeli soldiers, but suffer a lot of the greater Israeli firepower.

Senior Israeli and Palestinian officials are still meeting regularly, but no agreement has been made on how to begin peace talks.  

 

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