Israeli operation kills 12,
KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza (CNN - 7 Oct) --An operation by Israeli helicopters and dozens of tanks
early Monday left 12 people dead -- including a woman and child -- and about 100 people
wounded, the Palestine Red Crescent Society and hospital sources said.
The raid ended after several hours and was immediately condemned by
Palestinian leaders, but the Israeli military said its forces were firing on a group
of gunmen who shot at them first.
The Red Crescent said the Israelis opened fire in a pair of residential areas in
Khan Younis, a refugee camp in southern Gaza. The intense attack included
missiles, shelling, weapons fire from Apache helicopter gunships and demolition
of structures by military bulldozers, Palestinian sources said.
"We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms," said chief Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erakat. "Every time there is movement toward resumption of
negotiations we get these attacks by the Israelis."
According to Palestinian sources, most of the casualties occurred when at least
one missile was fired into a crowd outside a mosque in an area of Gaza the
Israelis consider to be a stronghold of the militant Islamic group Hamas.
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has been labeled by
the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. The group's military wing,
Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against
Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military.
Erakat said Monday's attack could not be justified.
"There is no justification for such action," Erakat said. "There is no such thing as
a Hamas neighborhood."
Separately, Palestinian sources said the hospital where many of the casualties
were taken came under fire by Israeli troops. According to the Israel Defense
Forces, its troops returned fire after Palestinians shot three mortars from the
In other developments, Rajeh Abu Lihya, commander of the Palestinian
Authority's law and order unit in Gaza, was gunned down by masked men,
Palestinian sources said.