[R-G] At least 23 killed in IDF missile strike on [Peaceful] Rafah protest
mstainsby at resist.ca
Wed May 19 12:13:16 MDT 2004
ISRAEL FIRES MISSILES AT UNARMED PROTESTORS IN GAZA;
AT LEAST 23 KILLED; DEATH TOLL EXPECTED TO RISE
Israeli occupation forces in Gaza have fired missiles into a
crowd of unarmed protestors killing at least 13 people. The death
toll is expected to rise. A report from Ha'aretz is below.
Israel killed at least 21 Palestinians yesterday, 18 May, and has
so far killed at least 18 today, 19 May, in an ongoing attack on
Gaza which the world is watching, but doing absolutely nothing to
stop. In fact, the Bush Administration has given Israel a green
light to continue the attack. On 18 May, Bush told the Israeli
lobby AIPAC, that Israel had a "right to defend itself," and the
White House said it "understands" the Israeli actions that have
killed and injured hundreds, and left thousands of refugees once
I wish to reiterate the urgency of contacting government and
international officials to demand ACTION to stop the ongoing
Israeli war crimes in Gaza. Please refer to the EI action alert
here for information on how to do this:
At least 23 killed in IDF missile strike on Rafah protest
By Amira Hass, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
19 May 2004
At least 23 Palestinians, most of them said to school students,
were killed Wednesday afternoon when Israel Defense Forces
helicopter gunships and tanks fired missiles and shells into a
crowd of protestors in Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza
At least sixty people, including many women and children, were
wounded in the incident, witnesses said. The incident brings the
day's death toll in the area to at least 18.
An estimated 3,000 people marching to the nearby Tel Sultan
neighborhood of the camp, to protest the IDF invasion in that
The witnesses said four missiles were fired from the air into the
"We cannot handle the situation, no hospital in the world can
handle the situation," Dr. Moawiya Hassanain, the chief hospital
spokesman, said. "I got instruction from President [Yasser]
Arafat to mobilize all our teams to Rafah immediately and declare
a state of emergency all over Gaza Strip hospitals."
Following the strike, the IDF opened the roads from the area of
the Morag settlement to Rafah, in order to allow ambulances to
reach the wounded. Rafah was sealed off from the rest of the
Strip on Monday, ahead of the current incursion.
But Shabtai Gold, a spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights,
said the army had prevented ambulances from traveling from nearby
Khan Yunis to Rafah.
An IDF spokesman said the military was investigating the
incident, adding that it was too soon to determine exactly what
"The Israeli army is investigating this incident. This is a
combat zone filled with explosive devices laid in advance by the
Palestinians. It is premature to know exactly what happened in
Rafah," Captain Sharon Feingold told Reuters.
The morgue in Rafah overflowed following the strike Wednesday,
and bodies of Palestinians killed during previous IDF raids were
stowed in a flower freezer after being hastily removed to make
space for more casualties.
Five killed in earlier strike Earlier in Wednesday, at least five
Palestinians were killed in an incident that the IDF said began
when militants opened fire on them as they operated in the
southern Gaza town.
Palestinian sources said that there were several other casualties
from gun fights in the area, but that rescue services were having
difficulties reaching them due to the gun fire and lack of
The IDF also ordered all males 16 or older in the Rafah
neighborhood of Tel Sultan to gather in a local school.
Armed men in the area were instructed to turn themselves in while
holding a white flag.
Israel Radio reported that the army had demolished five houses in
IDF troops were conducting house-to-house searches for armed
Palestinian militants in the Tel Sultan neighborhood on
The army said that it expected to meet with harsh opposition from
the militants in the area as Operation Rainbow entered its second
At least 20 Palestinians, including 14 armed men, were killed
Tuesday in the operation, which the army said was intended to
find weapons and arrest the smugglers and tunneling experts who
build the conduits for weapons that make their way from the
Egyptian side of the border to the Gaza Strip.
Three children, including a 13-year-old boy and his 16-year-old
sister, were reportedly among the dead. According to witnesses,
the brother and sister were killed while trying to bring in
laundry from the roof of their building.
An initial army probe into the incident, however, has found that
the teens were probably killed by an explosive device meant to
kill Israeli troops, and not from Israeli fire, Army Radio
reported on Wednesday.
At least six of the dead were civilians, and some 40 people were
reported wounded moderately to seriously. Most of the dead were
killed by snipers or by helicopters firing missiles at armed men.
On Wednesday morning, IDF troops destroyed the Rafah home of
gunman who killed Tali Hatuel and her four daughters in Gaza
earlier this month.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank, IDF troops entered the Jenin refugee
camp early Wednesday. An armed Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militant
was killed in an exchange of fire with the soldiers. Also,
another Al Aqsa militant was killed in an exchange of fire with
IDF soldiers in the West Bank city of Nablus on Wednesday
IDF troops Tuesday killed a Tanzim operative in Jenin and wounded
a second man. Earlier in the day, a Tanzim militant was killed in
Nablus while preparing a bomb.
The tanks and bulldozers were backed by helicopters and moved
into the southern Gaza district in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday, a
day after soldiers isolated the area from the rest of the Strip
and massive troop reinforcements were deployed to the outskirts
of the Rafah refugee camp.
While most of the residents of the areas nearest the Philadelphi
corridor evacuated their homes for fear of house demolitions, the
army says it is being very careful about not demolishing homes -
and it surprised residents by beginning the actual house-to-house
searches for wanted men and arms depots in the Tel al-Sultan
quarter, located in the northwestern corner of Rafah, instead of
the neighborhood near Philadelphi along the southern border. Most
of the damage to buildings was the result of fighting, not
demolitions, the army said.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the operation would continue
for "as long as necessary." But the IDF is aware that much
depends on the operation's success from day to day - excessive
casualties on the Israeli side could create domestic pressure to
pull the troops out, while excessive casualties or scenes of
civilian distress on the Palestinian side could prompt
international pressure to withdraw the troops.
Some 45 residents of Rafah petitioned the High Court of Justice
on Monday night to stop the expected demolition of additional
homes in the area. But just as it rejected a similar petition on
Sunday, the court also rejected a wholesale ban on house
When asked if the IDF would widen the Philadelphi route, a
measure that would entail wholesale demolitions of houses, the
commander of the IDF's Southern Gaza Brigade said that most Rafah
residents would be able to return to their homes at the
conclusion of the operation.
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