Home>News Center>World

Israel kills 14 in Gaza before key withdrawal vote
Updated: 2004-10-25 22:05

Israeli troops killed 14 Palestinians in a Gaza refugee camp Monday as parliament prepared, under tight security, to debate Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the occupied territory.

Witnesses and medics said overnight air strikes killed seven Palestinians in Khan Younis camp, a bastion of militants. A tank shell killed two and soldiers shot dead five, including a boy of 11 and two young men in a stone-throwing crowd.

Three of the Palestinians killed by missiles launched from unmanned drone aircraft were policemen. Eight of the dead remained unidentified. At least 74 Palestinians and two soldiers were wounded in Israel's tank and infantry thrust into the camp.

The Israeli army said it was targeting militants responsible for "ceaseless mortar attacks" on nearby Jewish settlements.

The violence raged hours before parliament was due to begin a two-day debate on Sharon's move to dismantle all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four of 120 in the West Bank in 2005.

If implemented, it would be Israel's first removal of settlements from territories occupied in the 1967 Middle East war where Palestinians want to establish a state.

Polls show most Israelis back the "disengagement" and it is likely to pass with about 67 of the 120 votes in the Knesset on Tuesday, but only with support of left-wing opposition members to offset a mutiny by rightists in his Likud party.

Sharon, a former general, says pulling out of small, coastal Gaza would make Israel easier to defend and allow it to seal its grip on larger West Bank settlements, with U.S. approval.

He has cranked up military action to smash Gaza militants and wear down resistance to his plan from nationalists who contend that it rewards Palestinian violence while betraying Jews' biblical claims to the land.


Palestinians believe the plan, which has the approval of the United States, will kill off deadlocked peace negotiations and leave them only impoverished Gaza and scattered parts of the West Bank, dashing their aspirations to a viable state.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie denounced the Khan Younis raid and called for foreign intervention.

"Does this reflect a ... policy of destroying Gaza before evacuating it?" Qurie said in the West Bank. "The whole world should realize that its statements of condemnation have become futile. If Israel is a state above the law, the world should spell this out. If not, it should deter Israel."

Gaza militants see Sharon's plan as a victory after four years of revolt. Violence has soared in anticipation of an Israeli pullback from Gaza, where some 8,000 Jews live in fortified enclaves among 1.3 million Palestinians.

Israeli police tightened a security cordon around the Knesset in the face of threats to kill Sharon and planned mass rallies for and against his plan. A bomb-sniffing dog was led about the chamber, spending the most time under Sharon's place. Police deployed on every street corner around parliament, some with assault rifles. Helicopters stood ready to airlift lawmakers if protesters blocked road access.

Activists erected placards nearby. Pro-settler signs read: "Sharon is tearing the nation apart." Pro-pullout banners said: "Evacuating settlements means choosing life.""

In the last-minute battle for the legislators' votes, anti-pullout campaigners sent them a video of appeals by young Gaza settlers crippled or bereaved in Palestinian attacks.


Sharon's cabinet approved a bill Sunday to compensate evacuated settlers and penalize those who resist.

Even if Sharon wins Knesset approval, his government could be toppled by imminent debate over the 2005 budget, if Likud rebels align with Labor -- which opposes social spending cuts -- as a way to scuttle the pullout from Gaza.

Moreover, further cabinet votes starting in March will be required to put disengagement into motion.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Powell told Hu: US opposes Taiwan independence



Population peak may hinder development



Mother-to-child HIV transmission tackled



Mine death toll rises to 86, hopes slim



Clinton helping Kerry turn out his voters



Property law secures ownership


  Karzai poised to become Afghanistan's first elected president
  IAEA says tons of Iraq explosives missing
  Kidnapping of aid worker stirs debate
  IAEA: Tons of Iraq explosives missing
  Six Palestinians killed in Gaza air strikes
  Japan quakes leave at least 23 dead
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Six Palestinians killed in Gaza air strikes
Sharon wins cabinet vote on Gaza, new raid mounted
Israel missile strike kills Hamas leader
Israeli soldiers kill 2 Gaza infiltrators
Israel: Gaza incursion was a success
Israel kills 5 Gazans after renewed Hamas threat
Israel strikes Gaza militants after renewed threat
  News Talk  
  Are the Republicans exploiting the memory of 9/11?