Palestinians killed in Gaza offensive

news4.jpgGAZA CITY (AP) — Israeli forces killed three people and wounded six in the Gaza Strip, officials said Thursday, and the army dropped leaflets on towns and villages warning that homes that are hiding arsenals of weapons would be attacked.

During the army’s second day of operation in the Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza, Israeli aircraft carried out two strikes against Palestinian fighters, the army said. Palestinian medics said one Palestinian fighter was killed and at least six were wounded, one seriously.

The casualties included at least two fighters, but most were civilians living in nearby homes, the medics said.

Earlier Thursday, a Palestinian teenager was killed in Mughazi as fighters and troops exchanged fire, medics said, and a 10-year-old Palestinian girl died who was wounded in an air strike Wednesday, doctors said.

Nine people, eight of them fighters, were killed in the area in Wednesday’s fighting. After dropping the Arabic-language leaflets warning of “dangerous consequences” for people hiding weapons, military officials told the Associated Press that the army was adopting a “new policy” of attacking homes in civilian areas where weapons such as homemade rockets are secretly stored.

In the three-week-old offensive, Israeli forces have mostly attacked government compounds and open areas that fighters were using to fire rockets towards Israel.

The UN says more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive. Many of the victims were fighters, but at least 16 were civilians.

The army’s offensive in Gaza — launched late last month after fighters carried out a cross-border raid on a military outpost, killing two soldiers and capturing one — is occurring as Israel continues its major invasion of Lebanon. The fighting in Lebanon broke out on July 12, after Hizbollah attacked a military patrol in Israel, killing eight soldiers and capturing two.

In Gaza on Thursday, the Israeli army dropped the leaflets throughout the coastal area of the territory warning that “anyone who has, or is keeping an arsenal, ammunitions or weapons in their house must destroy it or they will face dangerous consequences.” The Israeli military often drops leaflets in Gaza and Lebanon warning of forthcoming attacks.

In Gaza City, about 400 Palestinians carrying Lebanese flags demonstrated in solidarity with the people of Lebanon. They held children on stretchers with fake blood on their faces in mock funerals for Lebanese civilians killed in the Israeli offensive.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, a standoff between troops and fighters went into its second day, with troops including two tanks surrounding a security compound where the fighters were holed up.

Tanks fired five shells at the buildings as part of attempts to destroy them and force the fighters inside to surrender. Israeli troops fired steel-coated rubber bullets at Palestinians who demonstrated against the troops, injuring five, one seriously, Palestinian medics said.

About 4,000 Palestinians demonstrated in Nablus in support of Hizbollah in the fighting in Lebanon, calling on the its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, to attack Israel with rockets.

“Nasrallah, our dearest, strike, strike Tel Aviv,” the Palestinians shouted.

Five Palestinians were killed in the Nablus operation on Wednesday. 

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