Israeli artillery pounds Gaza

The Israeli army has fired artillery shells at a Palestinian security post in the northern Gaza Strip, killing one person and wounding at least six others.

    The Israeli army has killed 14 Palestinians in the past two days

    Palestinian security sources said an artillery shell landed on a small security base east of the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun on Sunday.

    The victim, according to reports, was named as Yasser Abu Jarad, 29, a driver who had just dropped off members of a unit manning the base.

    The injured included policemen and civilians.

    Israel says the shelling was in response to rocket fire from the area.

    Emergency meeting

    With Israeli attacks increasing in recent days, Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, has called an emergency session of the Hamas-led government on Sunday.

    Ismail Haniya (C) has called an
    emergency cabinet session

    At the same time, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' armed wing, has vowed to avenge the Israeli strikes.

    The Islamic Jihad resistance group also announced that it was suspending rocket fire from northern Gaza into Israel for one week to try to halt Israeli artillery barrages which have sometimes hit civilian areas.

    A spokesman said attacks would resume if Israel did not stop its air strikes and artillery fire on the strip.

    'Bloody escalation'

    Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for the Palestinian government, lambasted the EU and US for pressuring the Hamas-led administration while staying silent about Israel's tactics.

    "This is a very dangerous and bloody Israeli escalation that  surpasses anything that has gone on before.

    Israel is deliberately trying to ... paralyse our government in its first days"

    Ghazi Hamad
    Palestinian government spokesman

    "This is a very dangerous and bloody Israeli escalation that  surpasses anything that has gone on before," said Hamad.

    "Israel is deliberately trying to sow confusion and paralyse our government in its first days."

    The Palestinian Authority would contact Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, in a bid to rein in Israel, he added.

    Annan voices concern

    Annan was concerned about the increasing violence, his spokesman said on Sunday.

    "The secretary-general is extremely concerned about the continuation and intensification of violence in Israel and the  occupied Palestinian territory, including indiscriminate rocket  attacks against Israel from Gaza, a suicide bombing last week, and major Israeli reprisal operations," he said in a statement.

    "The secretary-general calls on the Palestinian Authority to take a clear public stand against violence and to take firm measures against the perpetrators of rocket attacks and suicide bombings."

    The spokesman added that Annan "calls on the government of Israel to ensure that its responses are proportionate and do not endanger the civilian population".

    Increased attacks

    The Israeli army has killed 14 Palestinians over the past two days in the deadliest spate of attacks in Gaza for five months.

    On Saturday, eight Palestinian fighters were killed in two separate air strikes.

    The Israeli army also killed five resistance fighters and the five-year-old son of one of them in a strike on a car in southern Gaza on Friday.

    Israel has ratcheted up military attacks on Gaza since the new Palestinian government led by Hamas took power.

    In other developments, a Palestinian teenager died of wounds  after being shot in the head during an Israeli incursion on Thursday in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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