"Civil defence" thwarts Israeli air strike on Gaza refugee camp

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Led by Nizar Rayan, a senior Hamas fighter, hundreds of Palestinian refugees gathered to protect the house of the leader of a militant group in Jabaliya refugee camp in Gaza and succeeded in thwarting an Israeli attack.

As part of their campaign against Palestinian fighters, Israeli forces had warned Mohammedweil Baroud, a commander in the Popular Resistance Committee, that his house would be attacked in 30 minutes time. He was told to take his family out of the house in order to avoid civilian casualties. Instead, he called for help from the local mosque and people swarmed round and over Mr Baroud's house in such numbers as to dissuade the Israelis from making the promised attack.

The Palestinians claimed this to have been the first successful defence of its kind. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, visiting the house, said that people had been driven to this remedy because the UN had refused to defend them. On Friday, the Security Council vetoed a resolution condemning Israeli military action in Gaza. Nizar Rayan promised "We will pay with our lives to protect the houses of the fighters, so they can resist the enemy, assured their homes are being protected".

On November 8, an Israeli shell killed 19 civilians in Beit Hanoun, due to, what the Israelis called, a "technical fault in targeting".

An Israeli spokesman said that Israeli forces differentiate between innocent people and "terrorists" and that they would continue the attacks.

A Palestinian rocket killed an Israeli woman and seriously wounded a man in the town of Sderot on November 15. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president has called for a ceasefire by those launching rockets and suicide attacks against Israel and the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad is said to be considering this request carefully. Over 400 Palestinians, including many civilians, have been killed since June by attacks, which Israel says are aimed at Palestinian fighters.