Sharon Threatens 'Much Harsher' Reprisals

Israel's response to Palestinian violence after its pullout from the Gaza Strip (search) would be harsher than its present military operations, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (search) said Tuesday.

Interviewed on Israel's Channel 10 TV for Israel's independence day, Sharon defended his "unilateral disengagement" plan, including a pullout from the Gaza Strip. Members of his Likud Party (search) vote on the plan in a referendum on Sunday.

After a pullout, he said, Palestinians could no longer explain violence by saying that Israel was occupying their land, Sharon said, "and Israel's responses (to violence) would be much harsher."

He refused to give specifics, beyond noting that Israel is already taking stiff measures, an apparent reference to the killing of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin on March 22 and his successor, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, three weeks later.