Israeli tank fire killed at least 18 civilians, including women and children, Wednesday, according to Palestinian officials. The Israeli army had announced Tuesday it has withdrawn from the town after undertaking one of its biggest offensives in Gaza during the year.
A Palestinian health ministry spokesperson said the shelling in Beit Hanoun had killed seven children and four women and wounded 40 people. Palestinian security officials said Israeli soldiers killed four gunmen and a civilian during a raid near the city of Jenin. The gunmen belonged to the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades group, a part of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.
An Israel military spokesperson said the military had no immediate information about any shelling in the area.
Beit Hanoun had been the target of a week-long military assault by Israeli troops, which killed 52 militants and civilians. Israel claimed the action was to counter Palestinian militants firing rockets into Israeli territory.
Palestinian officials said Israeli troops fired on houses. A TV footage of the shelling showed bleeding victims being carried to hospital with severe injuries.
Meanwhile, Tuesday saw another rocket attack by militants from northern Gaza into the Israeli town of Ashkelon. There were no reports of any casualties.
Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, heading the Hamas-led cabinet, called for an emergency meeting of the U.S. Security Council in the wake of the new Israeli attacks the resultant deaths of civilians.
As long as we have this Bush administration and a Democratic majority in Congress that is more concerned with "getting along with Republicans," the world is never going to know peace and we are never going to be safe from terrorism.
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