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(photo credit: AP)
Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres spoke out Sunday morning against the isolation of northern Samaria as part of the government's offensive against the Islamic Jihad terror organization that began in response to last Wednesday's deadly suicide bombing in Hadera .
"It is unacceptable under any circumstances to isolate northern Samaria. It is against all promises made by Israel," Peres asserted.
Immediately following Wednesday's deadly bombing, which killed five Israelis, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz approved a series of measures, unlimited in time and scope, to deliver a debilitating blow to the Islamic Jihad.
As part of those measures, the IDF issued a major clamp-down on Palestinian movement in northern Samaria, as well as a total ban on Palestinians entering Israel. Private Arab vehicles were barred from traveling in northern Samaria and the IDF erected numerous additional roadblocks across the region.
"We need to check to see if this really happened," Peres said in an interview with Army Radio, claiming that he only learned of the IDF crackdown from daily newspapers. "Nobody decided on this in any institution with which I am familiar - not in the government and not in the cabinet," Peres said Sunday morning.
The offices of both Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ridiculed Peres's comments, saying that it was unclear why Peres would say such a thing, as the decision to isolate northern Samaria was an operational military decision and was thus not dependant on receiving an okay from the cabinet or the government.
"We are carrying out a broad operation against terrorism, a broad operation against the Islamic Jihad infrastructure in light of Islamic Jihad's intention to continue with suicide bombings... this activity will continue until we can say that the Islamic Jihad infrastructure can no longer carry out suicide bombings," Mofaz said Sunday ahead of the weekly cabinet meeting.
During the cabinet meeting, Shin Bet Head Yuval Diskin said that among the many terror warnings that his agency receives, approximately two-thirds of them relate to plans made by Islamic Jihad. He added that the Palestinian street does not support escalation of the conflict.
In addition to the isolation of northern Samaria, arrests and assassinations of wanted terrorists increased following the deadly bombing, including the capture of Jenin Islamic Jihad leader Abdel Khalim Izzadin along with five of his companions on Thursday afternoon.