Israeli troops shot dead two women acting as human shields between soldiers
and gunmen holed up in a mosque, and bombarded the Gaza Strip with air strikes
on Friday, witnesses said.
A wounded Palestinian woman lies on the ground as others run
for cover after an Israeli tank opened fire at them at Beit Hanoun town in
northern Gaza strip, November 3, 2006. [Reuters]
During one of its bloodiest assaults since it withdrew in 2005 after 38 years
of military rule, Israel killed at least 17 Palestinians in Gaza on Friday,
about half of them civilians.
In the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun about 50 veiled women, answering an
appeal broadcast on radio, marched on a mosque where about 60 Palestinian gunmen
were sheltering, to act as cover against Israeli troops.
Reuters television footage showed Israeli forces opening fire and one of the
women fall dead. At least 10 were wounded. The Israeli army said it had fired at
armed Palestinians and was investigating whether it had also shot the women.
The gunmen, including some from the Islamist group Hamas which heads the
Palestinian government, managed to flee the Beit Hanoun mosque. Moments later,
its roof collapsed.
"We are very cautious about the issue of harming anyone uninvolved," a senior
Israeli military source said of the mosque shootings. "I think overall the
operation is very successful. We will check to see if there was something
It was the third day of a ground assault on Beit Hanoun, the largest
operation Israel has conducted in the Gaza Strip in months and designed to put a
stop to militants firing homemade rockets into Israel.
"The president demands from the U.N. Security Council to immediately
intervene to stop the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and the
massacres Israel is committing for the third consecutive day," Mahmoud Abbas's
office said in a statement.
Israeli air strikes in the northern town of Beit Lahiya killed a militant,
two rescue worker and another two Palestinian civilians, hospital and security
One of the missiles slammed into a group of militants who were planting a
bomb near Israeli troops in the area, Palestinian witnesses said. The army said
its attack was aimed at militants who fired rockets into the Jewish state on
HAMAS VOWS REVENGE
An Israeli air strike also killed a Palestinian, whose identity was unclear,
in Beit Hanoun. The Israeli army said it had targeted a group of Palestinian
A member of a Hamas-led security force injured in an Israeli strike against a
car carrying men from the group in the southern Gaza town of Rafah died of his
wounds, hospital officials said. The army said the attack had been aimed at
Militants from the Islamist group fired two rockets into southern Israel on
Friday, causing no casualties.
"Bombardment for bombardment and blood for blood," Hamas said in a statement.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, expressed defiance
and described Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories as an act of "blind
The army began a huge assault against militants in Gaza after several of them
abducted an Israeli soldier in a raid inside the Jewish state in June.
Since the start of the offensive four months ago more than 280 Palestinians
have been killed, about half of them civilians. Three Israeli soldiers have been
Israel's Gaza offensive has further weakened any chance of peace talks,
already minimal since Hamas won elections. Hamas is officially sworn to Israel's
In the West Bank, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian during a raid to
detain militants. Elsewhere in the territory, soldiers killed a Palestinian
during a clash with teenagers who threw stones and bombs at troops, doctors
(Additional reporting by Corinne Heller in Jerusalem, Atef Saad in Nablus,
Said Ayyad in Bethlehem and Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah)