Barak with Rice - Invitation stands
Photo: AP
Dichter - Heading home
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
MDA evacuating wounded
Photo: Amir Cohen

Barak to Rice: Come to Ashkelon

Israeli lawmakers back out of engagements with US President Bush, head towards Ashkelon disaster site as world leaders, organizations condemn Palestinian attack on Israeli shopping mall. Israel files formal complaint with UN Security Council

Israel lodged a formal complaint with the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday evening following the disastrous Palestinian rocket attack against a crowded Ashkelon shopping mall earlier in the day.


The medium-range Grad rocket crashed into a women's health clinic on the second floor of the commercial center, wounding 15 people and burying numerous shoppers under piles of rubble.


Paramedics evacuated four people in serious condition, including a mother and her 2-year-old daughter, and 11 others in moderate condition. Over 60 were treated for shock at the scene.


The attack took place as US President George W. Bush was meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem.


A number of Israeli lawmakers, including Deputy PM Eli Yishai and Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, himself a resident of Ashkelon, withdrew from the formal event being held this evening for the foreign dignitaries participating in the conference organized by President Shimon Peres. Yishai and Dichter both said they felt their place was in Ashkelon this evening.


Olmert spoke with Dichter after the attack and told him he wished to strengthen the residents of Ashkelon. "I want very much to be there myself," said Olmert.


Meanwhile Defense Minister Ehud Barak briefed US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the attack, and asked if she would be interested in accompanying him to Ashkelon to survey the damage. Rice has yet to respond to the offer. Barak also said he would cut short his time with Bush due to recent developments.


Obama slams attack 

Overseas, the White House issued a formal condemnation of the attack.


US Senator Barack Obama also took time from his hectic campaigning to speak out against the rocket strike: “As the United States joins Israel in celebrating its 60th anniversary, today’s cowardly rocket attack and tragic injuries remind us of the ongoing threats that Israelis face with courage and resolve. In the days and years to come, the United States must maintain its unshakeable commitment to supporting Israel’s right and capability to defend itself against these outrageous terrorist attacks, so that the Israeli people can live in peace and security.”


Physicians for Human Rights released a statement saying the organization "admonishes any shooting directed at civilians or use of civilian populations as a tool for pressuring their government.


"In the last shooting in Ashkelon, a medical center was hit. PHR demands acknowledgement that punishing civilians or committing violent acts against them and against medical staffs or patient-care facilities reflects a deep violation of international law as well as basic human morality."


פרסום ראשון: 05.14.08, 21:21
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