At least 15 Palestinians were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops that raided the al Bureij and Nusseirat refugee camps in the Gaza Strip early Sunday. The Israeli forces ended their operation at noon.
Palestinian witnesses said among the dead were a 7-year-old boy and four activists - including nine members of Hamas. The victims included, Shadi Alseaidini, 24, a Hamas fighter from al Bureij camp, Fares Alhawajri, 21, a Hamas fighter from Nusseirat refugee camp, Mohammad Alshatali, 22, a Hamas fighter from Nusseirat, Mohammad Badawi, 14, from Nusseirat, Ahmad Harb, 22, a Hamas fighter from Nusseirat, Musa Hemo, 23, a Hamas fighter from al Bureij, Omar Aljamal, 20, a Hamas fighter from Nusseirat, Khaled Alkhazuqi, 22, a Hamas fighter from Nusseirat, Hassan Zuhd, 42, a local Hamas leader from Nusseirat, Yusuf Abdullah Yunes, 7, from Nusseirat, Hazem Aqel, 23, from al Bureij, Saher Salim Almaghari from al Bureij and another unidentified person.
"A new crime has been committed by the Zionists but the resistance will not be broken," Hamas said in a statement.
The Islamic Jihad Movement threatened to launch attacks in retaliation for "the Israeli massacres" in the Gaza Strip. Dr. Mohammed Al-Hindi, a top islamic Jihad official, said that the Israeli occupiers can only understand the language of force and blood, adding that the Palestinians have the right to retaliate.
"The Palestinians will continue to fight and will not relinquish (their lands), and the Palestinian blood shed in Al-Bureij and Al-Nusseirat camps will lead to our victory," added Al-Hindi.
The exchange of fire started after the occupation troops moved into the refugee camps, accompanied by dozens of armored vehicles. Medical sources in Gaza Strip said that more than 80 Palestinians were injured in the raid.
In al Bureij, Palestinian sources said that the invading forces blockaded the house of Palestinian fighter Mohammad Awad, who was killed by Israeli troops a few months ago.
"Around 03:00 a.m Israeli undercover units, backed by several tanks, swept into al-Bureij camp, amid intensive fire killing and wounding tens of people,” Ahmad al-Jadeili, a resident of al-Bureij told WAFA news agency.
For its part, the army said it raided the al Bureij refugee camp in a "pinpointed operation against...terrorist cells who frequently fire mortar shells and activate explosive devices against Israeli civilian and military targets."
Martyr Abu Ali Mustafa brigades, the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), declared that its fighters were able to shoot an Israeli soldier, who was stationed on top of one of the buildings near Al-Bureij camp, but the Israeli army denied this.
Palestinian sources said that the Israeli army was also operating Sunday in the Gaza Strip refugee camp of Nusseirat. Witnesses from Nusseirat reported that Israeli snipers occupied the roofs of high buildings and started to shoot.
"Israeli troops besieged the house of Mohammed Awad, the soldiers positioned on the roof and began shooting at any movable body," Saed al-Shareef, an eyewitness from Nusseirat was quoted as saying by WAFA.
In the West Bank, troops blew up a building near Jenin.
The Palestinian Authority warned that Israel will pay the price for the deadly raid. The Palestinian cabinet called the operation a "terrorist massacre" and alleged that Israel was purposely escalating violence ahead of its unilateral withdrawal from the area. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)