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October 08, 2002



Girl killed in southern Gaza as Sharon ignores US rebuke

This is an interesting piece of writing. Note the title: Bad Israelis did not obey President Bush. As though the Palestinians do.
Note the language--so flavorful in its contempt! People are killed. Why? Well it seems the naughty Israelis were in hot pursuit of terrorists. And on and on it goes, slipping in the occassional fact of a Hamas killer or a Palestinian shooter. And at the very end, ah, fighting between and among Palestinian factions. But read the article:
JERUSALEM (AFP) - A Palestinian girl was killed in the Gaza Strip as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged more army raids into the bastion of Islamic militants, the day after an incursion killed 16 Palestinians there and drew a strong rebuke from Israel's top ally Washington.

In other violence, four Israelis were wounded, one of them seriously, in an ambush near Hebron in the West Bank, while new clashes erupted between Palestinian police and supporters of the Islamist group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Israel also took a drubbing from the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross who pronounced the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories the most dire in 35 years of Israeli occupation.

Another life was claimed in the Gaza Strip Tuesday as Israeli gunfire hit Maisa Zanoun, 12, in the chest in the southern town of Rafah, Palestinian medical sources said.

Military sources said troops stationed at a base on the outskirts of Rafah, along the town's border with Egypt, were attacked by a number of Palestinians and had returned fire, but said they did not know whether there were any casualties.

The bloodshed came hours after a defiant Sharon vowed more army raids into the Gaza Strip like the one on Monday in Khan Yunis that claimed the lives of 16 Palestinians and drew strong international rebukes including a barrage of criticism from Washington.

US President George W. Bush is "deeply concerned" about reports of Israeli raids in Gaza that have left civilians dead or wounded, his spokesman Ari Fleischer said in a statement Tuesday.

Bush's scolding came on top of harsh words from the US State Department as Washington looks to quiet the two-year conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as it threatens military intervention in Iraq.

"We are in touch with the Israelis to tell them that they have to examine their actions with great care, to avoid this kind of loss of life which does not further our efforts to find a peaceful solution," US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Tuesday, referring to the deadly Khan Yunis raid.

However, Israel's right-wing premier, forced to bow to US pressure last month to end his siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's base, appeared to pay no heed to the stream of international outrage over Monday's raid.

"The complicated operation we carried out was a success. It was an important one and there will be other anti-terrorist operations of this sort in the Gaza Strip," Sharon said.

Army officers said the raid, which saw 40 tanks storm a residential area, was aimed at rooting out Hamas' homemade rocket factories.

Sharon's comments appeared to fly in the face of US attempts to calm the region even as he prepares to visit the White House next week to hear what Bush wants from Israel concerning the looming showdown with Baghdad.

Sharon's pugnacious remarks also drew irate reactions from the Palestinians, who qualified them as tantamount to a declaration of war.

"Sharon's announcement was a declaration of war against the Palestinian people and a major challenge to UN Security Council resolutions" calling on Israel to quit Palestinian land, senior official Nabil Abu Rudeina said.

In a boost for the Palestinians, Israel's reoccupation of the West Bank was taken to task by the head of the International Committee for the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, who is on a visit to the region.

"The humanitarian situation has never been as bad as it is now," said Kellenberger, whose humanitarian organisation has had a permanent presence in the territories since they were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

"We are in a crisis," he told reporters in Jerusalem, adding that the situation had deteriorated sharply since March when Israel first reoccupied Palestinian self-rule cities in the West Bank to stamp out militant groups sending suicide bombers into Israel.

And Palestinian security forces were still searching Tuesday for a renegade Hamas operative who, together with 20 of his men, abducted and murdered a Gaza police chief, in apparent revenge for the killing of two Islamists a year ago in anti-US riots which the police tried to suppress.

In gunbattles after the murder, four Hamas supporters were shot dead as police tracked down Imad Aqel, the local Hamas leader who carried out the hit.

Fresh clashes broke out Tuesday when Hamas supporters threw three home-made hand grenades at Gaza police headquarters before being dispersed. Nobody was injured in the skirmish.

In a bid to calm the situation, the National and Islamic Forces, an umbrella group of the 13 main Palestinian factions, including both Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement and Hamas, met in Gaza City Tuesday night to try to resolve the feud, a high-ranking Fatah official said.

But the talks ended without any agreement being reached, a Hamas leader said later, who stressed the sides would keep meeting.


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