Israel massacres more Palestinian civilians


Richard Moore

Israel hits Hamas targets in Gaza

Israeli planes have carried out further air attacks on the Gaza Strip, killing 
three militants and injuring two more.

Israeli troops also killed two people in the West Bank. In the past 24-hours, 17
Palestinians have been killed.

The raids were the latest after an Israeli died in Sderot, the first death in 
nine months from a Palestinian rocket attack launched from Gaza.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert said "terrorists", as he called them, would pay a very 
heavy price for the attacks.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the Palestinian rocket attacks 
"need to stop".

"We are all sorry about the death of the Israeli university student" [in 
Sderot], she said, after meeting the Israeli prime minister in Tokyo.

She added: "I am concerned about the humanitarian conditions there and innocent 
people in Gaza who are being hurt."

Ms Rice will visit the Middle East next week for several days of talks with Mr 
Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

'Mass hysteria'

Palestinian witnesses said the Interior Ministry building, run by the militant 
group Hamas, was hit on Wednesday evening, although it was empty at the time.

Nearby buildings were damaged in the blast, killing a six-month-old baby and 
wounding at least six other people, Palestinian medical officials said.

In the West Bank Balata refugee camp, Israeli troops killed two militants. An 
Israeli army spokeswoman said troops had opened fire after spotting armed men 
threatening them.

Although the Israeli casualty is first death from Palestinian rocket fire in 
nine months, four other Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinian 
militants in the last three months.

In that time, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army, 
most of them militants.

Hamas said it fired at least 20 rockets on Wednesday, including eight at the 
town of Sderot, a frequent target.

Israeli media said one rocket exploded in a car park at Sapir College and a 
student, 30, was hit in the heart by shrapnel.

"I saw the man with his chest gaping open and he was being tended by medics. 
When another alarm went off there was mass hysteria in the college - people were
shouting, screaming, crying," said psychology student Orel David.

A second man at the college received wounds to his legs.
Rice visit

On Wednesday, an Israeli air strike killed five militants in Khan Younis, in the
southern Gaza Strip. Hamas officials said the dead included a senior engineer 
who built rockets and a commander who led a rocket squad.

Israel carries out frequent military action in the coastal strip in an effort to
curb near-daily rocket and mortar fire against southern Israel.

The latest violence comes days after two senior UN envoys told the Security 
Council that no progress had been made towards an Israeli-Palestinian peace 
agreement since the launch of US-sponsored peace talks.

The Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged late last year to conclude a peace 
deal before US President George W Bush leaves office in January 2009.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/28 08:07:17 GMT


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