Jerusalem, March 31, 2002
Following is the televised address that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon delivered to the nation Sunday evening, March 31, 2002:
"First of all, I would like – from here, from Jerusalem – to send our condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks and wishes for a speedy recovery to the many wounded in hospital.
Citizens of Israel, the State of Israel is in a war, a war against terror. This is a war that was forced on us. It is not a war that we decided to embark upon. This is a war for our home.
Under my leadership, ever since I was elected, the State of Israel has made every effort to reach a cease-fire. Amidst the wave of Palestinian terror, we set before us the goal of doing our utmost to achieve calm and make progress toward political agreements. We cooperated with US envoy Anthony Zinni, and we received terror in return. We cooperated with US Vice President Dick Cheney, and we received terror in return. In order to promote the possibility of a cease-fire, I decided to concede my demand for seven days of quiet, and we received terror in return. We withdrew the IDF from the cities, and we received terror in return. All we received in return for our efforts was terror, terror and more terror.
We must wage an uncompromising fight against this terror, uproot these weeds, and smash their infrastructure because there is no compromise with terror. It is impossible to compromise with someone who is prepared – like the suicide-bombers on the streets of Israel’s cities and at the World Trade Center in the US – to die in order to kill innocent civilians, children, women and infants, to die in order to cause fear and terror.
This terror is operated, directed and initiated by one man – Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Arafat heads a coalition of terror. He operates a strategy of terror. The PA Chairman is an enemy of Israel in particular and the entire free world in general. All those who treasure freedom, all those who were raised on the values of freedom and democracy, must know that Arafat is an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Arafat endangers the stability of the entire region.
The Government of Israel – at its meeting last Thursday, March 28, 2002 – decided to begin a wide-ranging operation to root out terrorist infrastructures in the PA areas. We will wipe out the terrorist infrastructures from their foundations because, in the end, we know that the only way to reach a cease-fire, negotiations, a settlement, an agreement and peace is if we succeed in eliminating the infrastructure of terrorism. The State of Israel seeks peace. Our hand is – and always will be – outstretched for peace with the Palestinian people and the peoples of the entire region. But let no one delude himself, our outstretched hand does not mean that we will capitulate to terror or to terrorists.
Citizens of Israel, the State of Israel is at a critical moment in its history. The situation is not easy, but we have known worse situations than this, and we overcame them all. This time, as in the past, we will be victorious; we will win this time, too. When this happens, we will be able to live here together in peace."