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Sheila MacVicar: Aftermath of the Israeli jet strikes

Shelia MacVicar
Shelia MacVicar  

CNN Correspondent Sheila MacVicar covered the aftermath of the suicide bombing at a crowded shopping center in the Israeli town of Netanya and later reported on Israel's retaliatory strikes using F-16 fighters against Palestinian targets in the West Bank.

Q: What makes these Israeli strikes different?

MACVICAR: For the first time, Israelis used warplanes against targets in the occupied territories. That has not happened in this conflict, it has not happened in the whole eight months this conflict has been going on. They have used patrol boats offshore to shell targets in Gaza, they have used helicopters, and of course we have seen them use their infantry, police and even tanks. But we have never before seen them bring their warplanes to bear.

CNN's Sheila MacVicar has more on the continuing violence in the Mideast (May 16)

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Q: How did Israel choose the targets?

MACVICAR: They are going after targets linked to the Palestinian security apparatus. All of the targets tonight -- with perhaps the exception of Tulkarem , we're still not certain what is happening in Tulkarem-- are targets that are linked to one Palestinian security force or another: the Palestinian police, Palestinian security agencies, intelligence agencies -- any forces that are close to Yasser Arafat.

This seems to be part of not only reprisals for the suicide bombing today in Netanya that took the lives of five Israelis and the suicide bomber, but it would seem also to be part of Israel's more aggressive military strategy -- which has become apparent in the past three weeks.

Q: Why has Hamas hit this town so many times?

MACVICAR: Netanya has been hit six times since January with three bombings, including this one. There are several reasons for it. One is that Netanya, although it is on the Israeli coast, is in fact almost a border community. It is less than 15 kilometers from what is called the Green Line, which separates Israel proper from the occupied territories. And Netanya just sits right there on the Green Line. That long border is very porous. Yes, there are checkpoints, there are blockades, and there are all sorts of mechanisms in place to prevent Palestinians from coming into Israel proper. The reality is that thousands of them do it every day and it is just not that difficult to do.

Q: Is peace buried in the rubble?

MACVICAR: There was a very fragile thread that was out there under the Mitchell commission report. That seemed to offer a way to begin a dialogue about a dialogue, begin to talk about talks.

It is very difficult to know what the reaction of the Palestinian National Authority and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will be to these attacks. It will be difficult also to know what the reaction will be in other Arab capitals: how they will react in Amman, in Cairo, in Damascus.

It is difficult to know whether or not these events tonight have, in fact, simply buried the Mitchell report and whatever hope it might have offered and postponed, delayed or perhaps even destroyed any chances of negotiations at any time in the near future.



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