Administration Criticizes IDF Operations
Against Palestinan Weapons Smuggling Tunnels
(May 19, 2004)
Statement by 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
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.