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Middle East
Palestinians block Israeli air raid
Israel cancels air attack in Gaza after Palestinians form human shield.
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2006 13:21 GMT

People surrounded the threatened building
to prevent the air assault

The Israeli military abandoned a planned air strike on the home of a Palestinian fighter in Gaza after hundreds of Palestinians formed a human shield around the building.
Hundreds of people surrounded the home of Weil Baroud, a commander of the Popular Resistance Committees in the northern town of Beit Lahiya, after he was told by the Israeli army late on Saturday that the building was going to be bombed. He was given 30 minutes to leave.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed that the raid had been called off because of the protest.
   
"The attack plan was cancelled because of the people there. We differentiate between innocent people and terrorists," he said.

Palestinian sources called the protest the first of its kind to have in effect prevented an air strike by the Israeli military.

Nour Odeh, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, reported that it was the first time such an act has been seen in the Gaza Strip by residents.

Baroud is accused of firing home-made rockets at Israel. Crowds of people stood on the rooftop and in the garden of the home.

The Israeli spokesman said that his country would continue its attacks against fighters, and accused them of using the civilians in the camp as human shields.

Nizar Rayan, a local Hamas leader who joined the protest, said: "We came here to protect this fighter, to protect his house and to prove that we are capable of defeating this Zionist policy."

The crowd chanted anti-Israel and anti-American slogans, and people said they were prepared to give their lives to protect the home.

"Yes to martyrdom. No to surrender," the crowd chanted.

Israel routinely orders residents out of their homes before air attacks on  what it says are suspected weapons-storage facilities.

Odeh said: "This is a usual type of tactic from Israel in the Gaza Strip. They have been using it for months now. This is a type of psychological warfare.

"Weil Baroud is a member of a political faction that although not represented in parliament, does have a lot of support on the streets, especially in Gaza."

Source:
Aljazeera and agencies
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