Photo: Amir Cohen
IDF armoured vehicle near Gaza
Photo: Amir Cohen
Photo: AFP
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
Photo: AFP
Saturday death toll rises to 11; IDF: Only few are civilians
Ten Palestinians killed Saturday, bringing death toll to 46 since Wednesday when IDF launched Operation Autumn Clouds in Gaza; Islamic Jihad, Fatah vow to carry out attacks against Israeli targets; IDF: Only 3 civilian casualties

According to Palestinian sources, one man was killed late Saturday night and another injured by IDF fire in Beit Hanoun.  A few hours before, a 15 year old Palestinian girl was killed, purportedly by an IDF sniper in the area. 


After two gunmen, injured in Saturday exchanges of fire with the IDF, died of their wounds, the Palestinian death toll resulting from IDF operation Autumn Clouds (underway since Wednesday) rose to 46.


Of the casualties thus far, ten were killed on Saturday.  In the early evening, a young Palestinian from Hamas died from wounds sustained in exchanges of fire with IDF forces in Beit Hanoun Saturday evening.  Six more Palestinians died earlier in the day. 


A senior IDF officer said that the operation had severely damaged Hamas' Qassam-launching infrastructure in northern Gaza, particularly in the areas of production and transportation. 


He also emphasized that, according to IDF information, there had been only three civilian casualties as a result of the operation, stating that Palestinians were "surprised by the attack and were trying to talk up casualties among unaffiliated bystanders."


An Israel Defense Forces soldier was seriously injured on Saturday in clashes with gunmen in Beit Hanoun, when gunmen launched an explosive device at forces in the area. 


Islamic Jihad's military wing, the al-Quds Brigades, and Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades on Saturday vowed to carry out attacks against Israeli targets in response to Israel Defense Forces incursions in the northern Gaza Strip.


Operatives from both groups held a press conference during which they vowed painful retaliatory attacks against Israel.


Operatives accused the United States of conspiring with Israel to harm the Palestinians.


Both groups vowed "to act with all force to curb Israel's offensive," which they said will fail to achieve its target of halting rocket fire at Israeli communities.


The Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge the killing of its commander in the southern West Bank, Saah Hassan.


A statement issued by the groups praised Hassan as "a commander who preferred to fight till his death and not to give up, although the soldiers who took part in the operation arrested his brother and despite the destruction of his house."


UN intervention

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the UN Security Council for urgent intervention to stop the Israeli offensive, his spokesman said.


"He asks the members of the council to move quickly and discuss the tragic situation in the Palestinian territories caused by the Israeli aggression," Abbas' office said in a statement.


British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said her country is concerned over the mounting death toll and urged restrained.


"We are concerned by increased violence in Gaza, in particular by reports of civilian deaths. We deeply regret the deaths of civilians on both sides of the conflict, and would like to remind all parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to avoid civilian casualties," she said in a statement.


"Israel has a right to defend itself but any action should be proportionate and in accordance with international humanitarian law."


Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammad Abul Gheit condemned the operation of called for an immediate ceasefire. A statement issued by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said "Israel is using excessive force in Beit Hanoun and is not taking civilians into consideration."


Roee Nahmias, Hanan Greenberg and AP contributed to this report


First published: 04.11.06, 16:41
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