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Palestine Today, a service of the International Middle East Media Centre for Wednesday November 8, 2006.

Twenty Palestinian civilians are killed and forty are injured in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, while in the West Bank the Israeli army kills five Palestinians and takes prisoners. These stories and more, coming up. Stay tuned.

Gaza Update

Twenty Palestinian civilians were killed and at least forty were injured after the Israeli army shelled a civilian area in Beit Hanoun, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip early Wednesday morning. Eight of the killed were children and all of the casualties were family members and relatives. They were murdered as they slept in their homes. The bodies were severely mutilated as a result of the shelling and the injured residents were sent to four hospitals across the Gaza Strip. Here is Ayman Othman, a resident of Beit Hanoun who lost 18 of his family members in this attack:

I have lost all of my family. My mom, my sister, my brother’s wife, my cousins. All of us are from the same family. Those injured are also part of my family: my brother and his son are both in critical condition. My uncle, his wife, son and daughter are dead. All of those who died are my brothers or first cousins. There was no resistance today or in the past few days. During the first day of the invasion to Beit Hanoun, soldiers stormed our house and searched it before leaving. On Tuesday they searched our houses again and found no weapons and no resistance fighters.

The military operation came less then 12 hours after the Israeli army said it ended its six day invasion to Beit Hannoun, which claimed the lives of 65 residents and left over 100 injured. Israel called the massacre a mistake. Israel claimed they targeted areas where homemade Qassam shells were being fired into Israeli areas, but local residents said rockets had not been fired. A senior Israeli military source stated that the main assumption now is that the artillery unit was given wrong coordinates. Israel's Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, “expressed regret for the deaths.” Israel for its part maintains its right to defend itself while Palestinians are condemned for doing so.

Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that the Israel Army Forces Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, appointed Major General Meir Kalifi to head an investigation of the shelling. On the other hand the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem called for a criminal investigation into the deaths. Here is Sarit Michaeli from B’Tselem:

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Both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh condemned the massacres and declared a three day period of mourning for those killed.

In the meantime, Palestinian resistance movements retaliated by firing homemade shells at Israeli targets near the Gaza Strip and vowed to continue resisting the occupation forces working in the Gaza Strip and promised the Israeli army a strong response to the crimes committed by the Israeli troops in Beit Hannoun.

West Bank Update

Earlier on Wednesday at dawn, under-cover forces of the Israeli army shot and killed five Palestinians in Al Yamoun town, west of Jenin, in the northern part of the West Bank. At least sixteen residents were taken prisoner in the village and several surrounding areas.

An Israeli military source said that elite units operating in the village, spotted a group of gunmen and opened fire at them. Local sources reported that three of the five Palestinians killed on Wednesday were in fact executed. After under-cover forces shot and injured the three, they took them to a nearby house and executed them. Here is Dr. Iyad Samara from Al Yamoun:

The occupation forces stopped ambulances and doctors from reaching the injured. I saw the three injured talking to neighbors at a house nearby before the soldiers took them behind the house and murdered them in cold blood.

The under-cover forces invaded the town at 2:30am, surrounded a house where the fighters were hiding, and fired Energa bombs that cause massive fire. The under-cover forces occupied some houses and ordered the residents to remain silent or be killed; the houses overlook the house where the fighters usually gather, Dr. Samara stated. Two residents were killed in the attack, one of them was standing on his balcony; both were shot in the head.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops broke into dozens of homes, searched them and took three residents prisoner. Soldiers claimed to uncover two automatic rifles, a gun and weapons in the houses of the three residents. 13 residents, including five brothers, were also taken prisoner in the nearby Qabatia town and the village of Al Zababda  all were taken to unknown destination, local sources reported.
Thank you for joining us from Occupied Bethlehem. You have been listening to Palestine Today from the International Middle East Media Centre, brought to you by Caysha Cay & Ghassan Bannoura.