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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 20, 2003

Tough to believe this!

Angry Palestinians Lash Out at Militants

Another hat tip to InstaPundit for pointing out this piece in The Guardian
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip (AP) - Palestinian residents of a northern Gaza town demonstrated Tuesday after Israelis destroyed buildings and farms there in a five-day invasion, but in a rare twist, their wrath was directed at Palestinian militants for firing rockets from their property, not at the Israelis.

Israeli forces pulled back to the edge of the town, Beit Hanoun, a letup that came despite a bloody wave of Palestinian suicide bombings that killed 12 bystanders, hinting Israel might not undertake a large-scale punitive military operation that would further weaken the new Palestinian premier, Mahmoud Abbas.[ ...] Meanwhile, Israeli troops moved back to the outskirts of Beit Hanoun in northeast Gaza but continued to hold territory inside the Gaza fence, where militants often set up and fire primitive Qassam rockets at the Israeli town of Sderot, less than a half-mile away.

Two hours after the pullback, angry residents of Beit Hanoun, a town of 35,000, took to the streets in a spontaneous demonstration, complaining that the militants had caused Israel to destroy their property. It was a rare outburst; most Palestinian demonstrations are aimed against Israel.

The residents said the Israeli military demolished 15 houses, uprooted thousands of trees and damaged the water and sewage systems.

The demonstrators blocked a main road with trash cans, rocks and burning tires in a show of outrage against the militants. Most of the rockets are launched by members of the violent Islamic Hamas.

``They (the militants) claim they are heroes,'' said Mohammed Zaaneen, 30, a farmer, as he carried rocks into the street. ``They brought us only destruction and made us homeless. They used our farms, our houses and our children ... to hide.''

The small, unguided Qassam rockets have crashed into Sderot many times over the past year, causing some damage but no serious injuries.

During the Israeli takeover, eight Palestinians were killed in clashes - four gunmen and four teens, ages 13, 15 and 17. Three of the teens were throwing stones at Israeli tanks when they were shot by troops. Sixty-five residents were wounded, including 20 under the age of 15, doctors said.