BEIT HANUN, Gaza, Nov. 8 — Israeli tank shells killed 18 Palestinians, including 8 children and 6 women, at a cluster of houses here today, igniting a fury that threatened a steep escalation in violence, with a Hamas leader calling for retaliation against Israel.From The Guardian: 'I cannot see a day when we live in peace with them'
“What can I tell you about Maisa now?” cried out an elderly woman, apparently referring to a dead granddaughter. “All I could see was parts of bodies — a head here, brains on the other side.”
Sanaa Athamna lay as if she slept, dead on a steel tray in the morgue of Beit Hanoun hospital. Across her forehead was a single, hairline fracture and beneath her eye a smudge of blood, the only visible marks of the destruction brought by the wave of Israeli artillery shells that struck her street in Beit Hanoun before dawn yesterday.More from The Guardian: We overcame our fear
In her arms, hospital staff laid the bodies of her relatives: two sisters, Maysa, one, and Maram, three. Their mother Manal was also killed in yesterday's attack, but lay in a morgue at another hospital awaiting burial.
In all, 18 members of the extended Athamna family died when Israeli artillery struck their houses on Hamad Street. At least 14 of the dead were women and children. It was the biggest single Israeli strike in the Palestinian territories for four years and came only a day after the military had ended a six-day incursion in Beit Hanoun, a heavy battle which claimed more than 50 lives.
The first shell struck the side of the Athamna family house, a poor, four-storey, breeze-block structure divided into apartments shared between the grandparents and their several children. Sanaa's brother, Ayman, was one of the first to arrive. At least one of his neighbours was already dead. He tried calling the ambulance services on his mobile phone but the line was already engaged. "The house was full of smoke. Everyone was coming outside," he said.
The family, most of whom had been asleep, poured out of their apartments in their nightclothes bringing the dead and injured down into the broad alley at the side of the house. They started to tend to the wounded. "My mother came out and I told her to go back and to take care of the children," said Ayman. He stayed in the alley, trying to calm the injured. "Then they shouted that another shell was coming and I ran for shelter." A wave of six or seven shells followed in quick succession striking the alley and houses on either side of the street.
By the time the shelling had stopped his mother, Nama, his sister Sanaa, and his brother's wife, Nihad, were lying dead. Broad pools of blood and torn pieces of clothing lined the alley. Gaping holes in nearby houses and walls showed where the shells had struck.
Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel's artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.From the Irish Examiner: Hamas leader calls for renewal of attacks
This is Israel's tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.
It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.
We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel's so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.
Hamas' supreme leader today called off a ceasefire with Israel and militants threatened to attack Americans after 18 members of a family, including eight children, were killed in an Israeli artillery barrage on a densely populated neighbourhood.We support Israel, to the tune of $3 billion a year.
The bloodshed constituted the highest civilian death toll among Palestinians since fighting erupted six years ago and undermined Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' attempts to form a more moderate government and renew a peace process with Israel.
Abbas condemned the "terrible, despicable crime" and the international community harshly criticised the deaths. Israel, promising a swift investigation, expressed regret for harming civilians.
The shelling occurred this morning as residents were sleeping in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, the focus of a week-long military offensive aimed at stopping rocket fire.
Israeli troops had pulled out of the town just 24 hours earlier.
If we don't question this arrangement, if we don't call it what it is, are we not also complicit in mass murder?