Wednesday, November 08, 2006




For the past few weeks, Palestinian militants in Northern Gaza have continued their barrage of rockets into Israel, and last week, the Israel Defence Force rolled in to "cleanse" the area of rocket-wielding militants.

More than fifty Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, died during those operations, and hundreds were wounded.

Israel then announced it was pulling out, and did so on Tuesday, even though rockets continued to be fired.

But yesterday, long after most Palestinians had gone to bed, Israel fired numerous tank shells straight into a heavily populated civilian area of Beit Nanoun.

From the Sydney Morning Herald :

"We saw legs, we saw heads, we saw hands scattered in the street," said Attaf Hamad, 22, in Beit Hanoun, a town in the northern Gaza Strip that has been a launching ground for Palestinian militants' rocket attacks on Israel.

At least seven children and four women were killed. Most of the children died in their beds, where they had been sleeping when the tanks fired into their homes.

Thirteen of the dead are reported to be from the same extended family.

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, described the killings as a "horrible and ugly massacre". A senior Hamas official urged Palestinians to attack inside Israel in response, and the Islamic Jihad group vowed suicide bombings.

Hamas's armed wing, decrying Washington's "political and financial support" for Israel, appeared to call on Palestinians to attack US targets, urging them in a statement "to teach the American enemy harsh lessons".

The office of Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said he and the Defence Minister, Amir Peretz, "voiced regret over the deaths of Palestinian civilians … and offered emergency humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority and medical care for the wounded".

Despite the propaganda from apologists for state terrorism like this, the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants do not come from the rooftops of civilian homes and apartment blocks.

The isolated rocket site Israel was attempting to hit has been reported as being a kilometre from the town.

"We were asleep and we were awakened by shells hitting the house of my uncle next door. Then the windows to our houses were blasted away," said Asma al-Athamna, 14, who suffered wounds. "We fled the house only to be hunted outside. The shells killed my mother and sister and wounded all my siblings."

The carnage could bring world pressure on Israel to curb its Gaza offensive, begun in June after militants seized a soldier.

Fifty-four people were wounded in the shelling, which struck at least seven houses, the ministry and witnesses said.

Israeli ground forces pulled out of Beit Hanoun on Tuesday after a week-long operation aimed at curbing rocket attacks that killed at least 52 Palestinians, more than half of them militants, hospital officials and residents said.

This is being reported as the worst attack by Israel on civilians in Northern Gaza in some four years. In 2002, Israel destroyed a block of flats in Gaza, killing 14 civilians.

It seems remarkable now that only a few days ago, Hamas was pressing Israel to agree to a cease-fire. Obviously that has now gone right out the window.

From :

Hamas' military wing called Wednesday on Muslims around the world to attack American targets following reports that an Israeli tank strike killed 18 people in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government distanced itself from the call, saying its fight was with Israel.

Hamas militants have historically directed their suicide bombings and rocket attacks only against Israeli targets.

"America is offering political, financial and logistic cover for the Zionist occupation crimes, and it is responsible for the Beit Hanoun massacre. Therefore, the people and the nation all over the globe are required to teach the American enemy tough lessons," Hamas' military wing said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

But Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government, said the group had no intention of attacking American targets.

The King of Jordan called it all an "ugly massacre".

The European Union described the slaughter of innocent children as "profoundly shocking", followed by the usual, and useless, calls for restraint.

The Italian foreign minister said the firing of tank shells into homes where civilians were sleeping was clearly "a massacre" and unacceptable.

Syria chose to describe it as a massacre as well, and government officials are reportedly furious at Israel, after Damascus spent weeks trying to co-ordinate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while pressuring Hamas and Fatah to sort out their proposed 'coalition government' plans.

Israel is now on "high alert" after the slaughters in Gaza. Palestinian militants said Israel should prepare body bags for the response to the killings.

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