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George W. Bush Administration:
Statement Criticizing IDF Operations Against Palestinan Weapons Smuggling Tunnels

(May 19, 2004)


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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

We deeply regret the loss of life of innocent Palestinian civilians today in Gaza.

While we believe that Israel has the right to act to defend itself and its citizens, we do not see that its operations in Gaza in the last few days serve the purposes of peace and security. They have worsened the humanitarian situation and resulted in confrontations between Israeli forces and Palestinians, and have not, we believe, enhanced Israel's security.

We note that the Government of Israel has expressed its "deep regret" for what it called a "tragic event." These events in fact serve as a grim reminder of the wisdom of Israel disengaging from Gaza, and having its security presence replaced by reformed Palestinian security forces that will -- and must -- themselves act to stop smuggling and halt terrorism. The roadmap calls upon the Palestinian Authority to "declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere" and to begin "sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and organizations."

We have urged the Israeli Government to exercise maximum restraint now. All parties should find a reason to calm the situation. We intend to consult immediately with the relevant parties, which include Israel, the Palestinians, and the Government of Egypt, about effective ways to move forward against the smuggling of arms into Gaza and terrorist activities there, so as to create the best possible conditions on the ground leading toward the disengagement that we continue to favor.


Sources: The White House

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