Photo: AP
Remains of house bombed by IDF (Archive photo)
Photo: AP
Palestinians use 'human ring' to protect senior official
Hundreds of Palestinians gather at house of wanted man after IDF warned residents to distance themselves from building because it is about to be bombed. 'We came to prove that the Zionist policy can be beat,' said civilians, who stayed on site until wanted man escaped
Hundreds of Palestinians decided Saturday evening to use their bodies to prevent the IDF from blowing up the house of Mohammed al-Baroud, a senior commander in the Salah a-Din Brigades, the military arm of the Popular Resistance Committees.


The Palestinian residents created a "human ring" around the house in Beit Lahiya, and stayed in place until al-Baroud managed to escape.


Sources in the Gaza Strip said that al-Baroud received a phone call from the IDF warning him to leave the house because it was about to be bombed by the IDF. After rumor of the phone call spread, hundreds of Palestinian civilians gathered around the house, stood in the yard and on the roof, in order to prevent the attack.


This is the first time that Palestinian civilians were recruited in order to fend off and aerial attack by the IDF.


A senior Hamas official, Nizar Rayan, led the unusual protest which was broadcast live by Palestinian television. "Death to America and death to Israel," the crowds chanted as many waved their fists in the air.


A Hamas activist among the crowd said: "We came to defend this fighter and his house. Be came to prove that we are capable of defeated the Zionist policy."


Later an Israeli military spokesman confirmed the raid had been called off because of the protest. "The attack plan was cancelled because of the people there," the spokesman said. "We differentiate between innocent people and terrorists."


The spokesman vowed Israel would continue its strikes, and accused gunmen of using the civilians in the camp as human shields.


Earlier Saturday, the Air Force attacked two buildings used by Hamas. The IDF reported that one of the buildings was used as an office and operations room by the organization, while the second building was used as a gathering place for organization activists.


Two gunmen killed in Beit Lahiya

Saturday, IDF forces shot two Palestinians in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya. In a separate area of northern Gaza, three IDF soldiers were injured when an antitank missile hit their vehicle.


Palestinian sources said that one of the fatalities was 24 year old Said Hajouj, a member of the Palestinian police forces on the way to his base.


Palestinians claimed that Israeli forces ambushing gunmen in the area opened fire at the policeman, and he suffered fatal head wounds. They further claimed that Hajouj had been wearing his uniform, but not carrying his weapon.


Medical sources reported that another person died as a result of IDF fire in the town, but no details were given. Additionally, according to the sources, three local farmers were injured by IDF fire in the area.


IDF forces began operating in the Beit Lahiya area Friday night, in order to prevent Qassam launchings from the region. This is not a renewal of the previous operation, but rather an attempt to identify and take out local Qassam launching cells.


Reuters contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 11.19.06, 03:00
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