Two Children Killed by Israeli Missiles
Two Children Killed by Israeli Missiles, Bringing Death Toll to Ten
115 Palestinian Youngsters Under 18 Killed in 2002
Palestine Media Center- (PMC)
In the bloodiest day in weeks, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed ten Palestinians, including two children, who were innocent bystanders condemned to death by Apache helicopters, which fired at a vehicle in an attempt to extra-judicially assassinate two activists in the Gaza Strip.
The two boys were charred when at least three air-to-surface missiles fired from a US-made Israeli gunship slammed outside a hospital in the town of Khan Younis on Sunday.
Medical sources said the youngsters, Mohammed al-Kawar’ie, 14, and Abdul Rahman el-Najar, 15, described by residents as a disabled boy who could not walk, were killed by shrapnel when the helicopters missed their target-- a car in which two suspected Hamas activists were riding.
Witnesses said two of the rockets landed among some houses in a rural farming community, killing the two children and seriously injuring another 15-year-old boy.
Several more children and a Palestinian man were also injured in the attack, witnesses and medical sources said.
Palestinian sources said the missiles were aimed at the two Palestinian activists, identified by security sources as Mohammed Abu Shammalah and Raed el-Attar, who narrowly cheated death when they jumped out of the car they were in as soon as they heard the helicopters nearby.
Mahmoud Abu Tahar, a gas station owner, said the missiles were fired toward a taxi and a car, when three youngsters were nearby. “I saw two people dead and another lying nearby in a pool of blood,” Abu Tahar said.
Palestinian hospital officials confirmed none of the teenagers killed in the missile strike were known to be members of activist groups waging the Intifada for statehood.
The Israeli army had no immediate comment. It has systematically used gunships to carry out extra-judicial executions of dozens of Palestinian activists, which have at several occasions killed civilian bystanders and led to Palestinian counter attacks. The assassinations are condemned by human rights organizations as cold-blooded executions, carried out without trial or charge.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades confirmed in a statement that two of their leaders had narrowly escaped the missile attack and promised their group would retaliate.
This comes after four Palestinians were killed in separate military onslaughts on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. A man was killed when columns of tanks, backed by helicopter gunships, raided Khan Younis overnight. As they raided another Gaza Strip town—Beit Hanoun-- IOF soldiers shot dead another Palestinian man.
Meanwhile, a third man was killed in Nablus’ Askar refugee camp, and a fourth was shot dead by an Israeli settler in the West Bank city of Hebron, peppered with Israeli settlements.
Two Palestinians were meanwhile shot dead when they infiltrated a village in Israel just outside the West Bank and killed an Israeli. Another two Palestinians were killed in the border town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, as they engaged in a gun battle with Israeli occupation troops.
115 Palestinian Children Killed in 2002
According to a death toll by The Associated Press, 115 Palestinian youths were killed by Israeli occupation forces (IOF) during 2002.
Jihad Faqueh, 11, was killed on November 25 while hurling stones at Israeli jeeps in the West Bank city of Nablus.
IOF soldiers retaliated by firing tear live rounds at the group of boys, as well as gas canisters, and rubber-coated steel pellets. Jihad was fatally hit in the chest.
He was one of 115 unarmed Palestinians children aged less than 18 who were killed in 2002, an increase of more than 50 percent from the year before, according to an AP count.
The news agency says that the toll underlines the Israeli military’s failure to quell riots without killing civilians, particularly minors. Most of the youngsters killed in 2002 were stonethrowers or bystanders hit by Israeli army fire.
Others were killed when IOF assassinated or attempted to assassinate Palestinian activists. International outcry was hurled on Israel last year when nine children were killed after Israeli F-16 fighter jests slammed missiles at a residential building in an overcrowded Gaza Strip neighborhood. The missile was aimed at a Hamas leader, who was also killed in the deadly attack.
The Israeli government often alleges that Palestinian gunmen often hide behind civilians while shooting at occupation soldiers.
“The rate of Palestinian children killed at the hands of Israeli soldiers is alarming and requires immediate international intervention,” said Sa’eb Erekat.
Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, say no Israeli soldiers have been tried for “improper use of force” in cases involving the killing of children.
Military Onslaught is Smoke Screen for Sharon’s Scandal
PNA Cabinet minister and chief negotiator Sa’eb Erekat meanwhile accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of using military might to divert Israeli and world attention away from a $1.5 million loan scandal, which followed a previous poll-rigging scandal.
The scandals have caused a large fallout in the Likud party poll results, adversely affecting Sharon's once comfortable lead.
“These operations were an attempt by the Israeli Government to escape corruption accusations and influence the Israeli electoral campaign by perpetrating more killings, destruction and state terrorism in the territories,” Erekat told the AFP.
“Sharon is trying to distract attention from the financial scandal he is facing by sending his tanks into Palestinian areas, by killing more Palestinians and by demolishing more Palestinian homes,” he further said.
This came following Palestinian President Yasser Arafat’s call for halting all attacks inside Israel before upcoming Israeli general elections.
In a statement on Friday, the Palestinian leadership urged the “Palestinian people to show their restraint and not allow themselves to be dragged along by the Israeli escalation and provocation on the approach of Israeli elections.”
Israeli ‘Defense’ Minister Shaul Mofaz had previously pledged to step up its offensive against Palestinians, including more ‘operations’ such as the Gaza onsluaght in Gaza on Sunday.