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New attacks on Palestinian targets

Black smoke rises from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's landing pad near his headquarters in Gaza City on Monday
Black smoke rises from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's landing pad near his headquarters in Gaza City on Monday  

RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Israeli warplanes and helicopters have launched a fresh round of attacks on Palestinian targets in the West Bank and Gaza.

The strikes on Tuesday against five targets -- two in Gaza and three in the West Bank -- come after weekend suicide bombings in which 25 Israelis died, and hours after the Israeli Cabinet said the Palestinian Authority was "a terrorist supporting entity."

At least three people were reported killed in the attacks on targets in Gaza, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society. Scores have been injured, Palestinian sources say.

Israel Defense Forces confirmed military strikes in the West Bank towns of Ramallah, Salfit and Force 17 headquarters in Tulkarem and in the Gaza locations of Gaza City and the Khan Yunis refugee camp.

Tuesday's action follows attacks on Palestinian targets on Monday.

Brig. Gen. Ron Kitrey -- an Israeli army spokesman -- said in a BBC interview Tuesday that the military actions will continue as long as necessary.

U.S. president calls for action from Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat after terrorist suicide bombings kill 25 Israelis. CNN's John King reports (December 3)

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As Israel retaliates over weekend suicide bombings, talk of war takes center stage. CNN's Jerrold Kessel reports (December 3)

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CNN Access: Israeli, Palestinian diplomats debate "self-defense"  
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Israel: Palestinian Authority supports terrorists 
Gallery: Israeli attack in Gaza 
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Message Board: Mideast violence 

"We will do it surgically and pinpoint it to those who we see reponsible for this tragic situation of constant terrorism being carried out against our settlements, against our towns, against our civilians."

The strikes on Tuesday began with two Israeli Cobra helicopters firing rockets which struck a building adjacent to the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Officials said Arafat was unhurt.

Kitrey, said Arafat was not a target of the attacks. "The target is not the man, the target is the apparatuses," he said.

CNN's Matthew Chance then reported a "ferocious" assault by warplanes and helicopter gunships on targets in Gaza City. He said Palestinian officials said missiles had hit the Palestinian Offices of Preventive Security.

Chance saw missiles fired and heard heavy machine gun fire.

He said there was "widespread pandemonium" in Gaza City, with people running out of buildings and ambulances "screaming through the streets." He said there was no information on whether there had been casualties.

He said Palestinian officials said Arafat's presidential compound in Gaza had also been hit.

Earlier, Arafat spokesman Nabil Adu Rudieneh said four missiles struck the building in Ramallah used for Palestinian interior affairs, only separated by a wall from Arafat's offices.

Rudieneh said the Palestinian Authority considers the strike an escalation and said it proves Israel is looking for targets to weaken the Palestinian infrastructure.

Israel military sources said the target of the missile strike in Ramallah was the Hamas and Islamic Jihad apparatus linked to the recent terror attacks in Israel at the weekend.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel said Israel had confirmed it had launched strikes on five targets, two in Gaza and three in the West Bank.

Earlier Tuesday, Israel moved tanks to within striking distance of the office where Arafat was working, an aide said. Tanks had already entered Gaza City International Airport in Gaza, followed by bulldozers that began ripping up parts of the runway, said Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat.

Erakat said tanks have also entered the Palestinian town of Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, the town of Al Bireh in Ramallah and the town of Nablus in the West Bank.

Ten Israeli tanks also were positioned near Arafat's Ramallah office while he was inside, Erakat said.

There was no immediate confirmation of the tank movement from the Israel Defense Forces.

Tuesday's attacks followed air attacks at dusk Monday which destroyed the residences of Arafat's guards in Gaza City as well as two of Arafat's helicopters and the landing pad, Palestinian Cabinet member Nabil Sha'ath told CNN.

Gaza hospitals said at least 15 people were treated for injuries -- none serious -- while Palestinian medical relief organizations reported dozens of injuries.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blamed Arafat for the weekend bombings that killed 25 Israelis, all but one of them civilians and many of them young people, and wounded hundreds in Jerusalem and Haifa. Three Palestinians blew themselves up in a pedestrian mall and on a bus.

"Israel does not open wars," Sharon said at a news conference. "We know who has brought it on us -- Arafat is responsible for everything that is happening here."

Following the news conference, Israeli F-16s attacked the civil police headquarters and Palestinian Authority offices in the West Bank town of Jenin, the Israel Defense Forces said.

Also in the West Bank, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli gunfire overnight, a Palestinian source told CNN Tuesday morning. The Nablus governor's office identified the man as Amjad Toubasi.

Responding to Sharon's speech, Erakat said Sharon had issued a declaration of war.

"He is saying 'war, war, war now, peace later.' I think he is making the mistake of his life," said Erakat, who called on the United States and European leaders to "stop Sharon."

Sharon would not say if Israel was planning to remove Arafat from his role as Palestinian Authority president, saying the government would "take the necessary steps to decide in due time."


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