Massacre in Beit Hanoun

November 9, 2006

One day after the Israel army declared that it had pulled out and completed Operation Autumn Clouds in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun, 24 Palestinians were killed in Gaza and the West Bank, 19 people were killed and at least 45 were injured as a large number of shells were fired at the town. Another five Palestinians were killed in Jenin, northern West Bank by Israeli army fire.

The series of incidents began at 6 a.m., when eyewitness said that dozens of tank shells and missiles landed simultaneously in a small and limited area in Beit Hanoun. Ambulances found it difficult to evacuate the wounded. According to Palestinian sources, some of the shells landed on a house, killing 11 members of one family called Al-A’athamein, including a nine-year-old child and a 73-year-old woman. Israeli sources confirmed that artillery shells were fired Wednesday morning. Incredibly, they said it was not yet known whether the matter was a technical error or a human one.

Sources in Gaza reported that some of those killed were hurt after shells hit a group of civilians who arrived to aid those hurt in the first barrage. Residents in the area were called to donate blood for fear that the number of casualties would be higher. Khaled Radi, a Palestinian Health Ministry official, said all the dead were civilians. He said seven children and four women were among the dead.

Radi also said at least 45 more were wounded, all civilians. Four hospitals are treating the wounded across Gaza. Emergency and first aid director in the ministry of health, Dr Moa’aweyah Hasanein announced that the latest round of Israeli war crimes in Gaza has resulted in a new massacre in the northern town of Beit Hanoun. Nineteen innocent civilians, including seven children and four women, have been murdered brutally as they slept in their own house. This brings this week’s toll alone to around 80 Palestinian martyrs and more than 350 have been injured. an extract from an article published on Electronic Intifada: “Yousef Alhelou writing from Beit Hanoun, occupied Gaza Strip, Live from Palestine, 8 November 2006” (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article5993.shtml)

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We counted about eight impacts. The shells appear to have landed roughly in a straight line, starting in the fields at the end of the street and hitting houses on either side of it. A pen for livestock was struck by one of the explosions and the animals are lying dead on the ground.There are pools of bloodstained water outside one of the houses, which has had a hole blown through the roof and there are shrapnel marks everywhere from the explosion.A woman just walked past me crying, being helped by some of her neighbours.Most people are shocked and uncomprehending about what happened in their street during the night. A father of one child who was killed told me: “One missile I believe could have been a mistake, but the number of missiles that were fired, I can’t believe that was a mistake.”“I am angry. I hate the US, I hate George W Bush, I hate of course Israel. I also hate the Arab states which do nothing to help and the international community,” said Raed.But it was not anger in his eyes, it was more like an immense sadness that showed through.

That mood was shared by most of the people we saw, many of them slumped tearfully against walls in the street.
various extracts from an article published on bbc.co.uk: Gaza town stunned by shelling, By Matthew Price, BBC News, Beit Hanoun (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6128614.stm)

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