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IDF Artillery Barrage Kills 19 Gaza Civilians Sleeping in Homes

beit hanun victim rushes child to hospitalShelling victim rushes wounded child to Gaza hospital (credit: Reuters)

Just as I was celebrating a remarkable Democratic victory in Congressional elections, this horrible incident occurred. An IDF artillery unit has murdered 19 Palestinians, all civilians, including 10 children and 7 women and destroyed the homes of four families in the process:

Israel Defense Forces artillery shells struck a residential area in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanun early Wednesday, killing at least 19 Palestinians and wounding dozens of others. Ten children and seven women were among the dead, the Palestinian Health Ministry said, adding that 18 of the victims were members of the Athamna family. Khaled Radi, a Palestinian Health Ministry official, said all of those killed were civilians. According to witnesses, the victims were sleeping when the 15-minute barrage of shells first hit. Radi also said at least 40 people were wounded, all civilians. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed regret for the deaths, saying that Israel did not set out to harm innocent civilians. The IDF confirmed that an artillery battery containing 12 shells had aimed at a site from where Qassam rockets were fired at the southern city Ashkelon on Tuesday. The artillery fire had been intended for a location about half a kilometer from the Beit Hanun houses. At this stage it is unclear whether the incident was caused by a technical or human error. The initial assumption is, however, that the wrong coordinates were fed to the artillery unit.

Pray, in this day and age of technological sophistication how does an artillery shell miss its target by one-quarter of a mile?? And why was Israel using artillery anyway to interdict Qassam rocket assaults:

The army has reduced the amount of artillery fire into Gaza in recent months, saying it was ineffective against the Qassam cells and inaccurate. Nevertheless, the army decided to continue firing artillery shells sporadically, in specific instances.

Yet, Tzipi Livni has the chutzpa to say Israel did not set out to harm civilians. When you use a weapon you know to be inaccurate and then kill innocent civilians you can no longer make such a claim credibly. You are guilty of woeful negligence at least. And did the shelling accomplish the desired effect of eliminating the Qassam fire? No, of course not:

Eight Qassams were fired at southern Israel from Gaza following the shelling.

I’m sure you’ll be reassured as I was to know who is investigating this outrage:

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz appointed Major General Meir Kalifi to head an investigation into the shelling.

For those who don’t remember, he’s the same jackass general who “investigated” the Gaza beach massacre (that also involved artillery shelling) and gave the IDF a clean bill of health.

I’m sure he’ll conduct a thorough and impartial investigation letting the chips fall where they may. And this is the bitter fruit of such criminal military offenses:

Rahwi Hamad, 75, who lives across the street, said he woke to the sound of shells exploding and people screaming. “I opened my window and I looked out and I saw a shell hit a neighbor’s house … When I came out, another shell had hit the house,” he said. “There was a stench of blood and (burned) flesh.” Large holes had been punched in
the fronts of the houses and their balconies had collapsed. Surviving relatives sat weeping in front of the buildings. One man dipped his fingers in a puddle of blood and daubed it on his face. “God avenge us, God avenge us,” he cried.

Another survivor said this:

“It is the saddest scene and images I have ever seen. We saw legs, we saw heads, we saw hands scattered in the street,” 22-year-old eyewitness Attaf Hamad told Reuters news agency. “I saw people coming out of a house covered in blood. I started screaming to wake up the neighbours.”

Oh Condi and George…is it time for a ceasefire yet? Remember Lebanon where the same duo refused a ceasefire in order to allow Israel to “soften up” Hezbollah? Or should Israel continue killing scores or even hundreds more such civilians before you’ll get off your goddamn butts and do what you should do to knock heads and make things happen here. Oh the shame of it. Bush fiddles while Gaza burns. George, if you want to redeem your God forsaken presidency after today’s ignominious election defeat, you’ll gird yourself and do the right thing. Help bring peace between these two self-destructive peoples. Create a legacy. To paraphrase John Prine: just give us one thing that we can hold on to and be proud of in your presidency.

UPDATE: Haaretz initially reported that 19 had died. Most other media publication only noted 18 deaths at the time. But since then, 2 other vicitms have died bringing the total to 20 dead as of November 19th).

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joshua November 9, 2006, 11:44 AM

    The IDF has apologized and is investigating what actually happened. And I’m not sure why you call Kalifi a “jackass.” The fact that he doesn’t come to your pre-ordained conclusion doesn’t mean that he was wrong.

    Speaking of investigations, it looks like the UN observers in Lebanon have refuted the claim that the IDF was using weapons with either enriched or depleted uranium. So will you now post a retraction? Will you now call on Fisk to post a retraction?

  • Amin Nusseibeh November 9, 2006, 11:45 AM

    You can have Israel, or you can have peace, but you cant have both. You will have to make this choice

  • Joshua November 9, 2006, 11:46 AM

    Richard, you purport to follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The above story was readily available from several sources, including the UN itself.

    Now, you can do the responsible thing, and publish a retraction.

    In the meantime, you can also note that the initial conclusion in the most recent incident was that there was a misfired shell due to mechanical error. (And you can find that link yourself). I know that’s not as sexy as “IDF orders murder of sleeping family in cold blood” but it’s the more reasonable explanation. You should issue another retraction, acknowledging that you inappropriately accused the IDF of “murder.”

    And meanwhile, I see you have no problem with eliminationist coments such as our other interlocutor. That is unfortunate, because it is such racist thought as his which is what leads to tragic accidents like that in Beit Hanoun.