Israel kills seven in Gaza invasion

Nine Palestinian men have been shot dead, the youngest 13 years old, in an Israeli raid on the the town of Bait Lahiya in the Gaza Strip.

    Bait Lahiya defenceless against tanks and helicopter gunships

    Palestinian medical services confirmed the fatalities after the  attack on Wednesday.

    At least four of those killed were resistance fighters.

    This raises to 13 the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation troops during the two-day invasion.

    The latest deaths brought the overall toll since the September 2000 start of the Palestinian Intifada to 3927, including 2959 Palestinians and 899 Israelis.

    A column of 25 tanks and numerous helicopter gunships wounded five locals after beginning house-to-house searches at dawn.

    Occupation troops forced entry into numerous houses, searching for resistance fighters who may be involved in firing makeshift rockets.

    One Apache gunship crew confirmed it had fired and hit a "group of militants planting bombs" – but refused to give a time or location.

    Aljazeera's correspondent said Israeli troops looked set to target the town of Bait Hanun for their next raid.

    Raid justified?

    Witnesses reported occasional bursts of machine-gun fire from helicopters and tank fire and said some residents had also shot back at occupation forces.

    The invasion came hours after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged to continue targeting leaders of resistance movements, after the weekend assassination of Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz al-Rantisi. 

    "Maybe they(the Israelis) want to reoccupy Gaza then they'll say they will pull out of Gaza"

    Saib Uraiqat,
    Palestinian chief negotiator

    The Israeli army insists that raiding villages close to illegal settlements and making numerous arrests is the only way to deal with Palestinian resistance.

    Nine Israelis have been lightly hurt in rocket strikes against illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip.

    Condemnation

    Palestinian chief negotiator Saib Uraiqat condemned the invasion. "On average in Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanun, is a Palestinian that is killed every hour now. In the last 10 hours, 10 Palestinians have been killed, 45 wounded," Uraiqat told reporters.

    "We condemn this Israeli military incursion and escalation and the same thing is matched in the West Bank so at a time when the world is speaking about Israel disengaging from Gaza, they are preparing the ground to occupy Gaza.

    Maybe they want to reoccupy Gaza then they'll say they will pull out of Gaza. This is a very dangerous escalation and we condemn it in the strongest possible (way)."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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