Blast at Protest Kills at Least 10
Israeli forces fired a missile and a tank shell Wednesday into a large crowd of Palestinians demonstrating against the invasion of a neighboring refugee camp, witnesses said. At least 10 Palestinians were killed, all children and teenagers, a Palestinian health official said.
At least 50 people were wounded, 36 critically, Palestinian hospital officials said.
Palestinian witnesses saw a missile land in the middle of the crowd of 3,000 demonstrators, and Associated Press Television Network footage showed smoke and debris flying as a large explosion rocked the area. The footage then showed Palestinians carrying the wounded, including children, from the smoky scene.
Military sources said on condition of anonymity that a helicopter and a tank fired one round each near the crowd after soldiers felt threatened.
Palestinian witnesses said four missiles and four tank shells were fired, and they also heard machine-gun fire from tanks.
Defense sources said senior officers, including the chief of staff, were in an emergency meeting to investigate the incident.
“We are still checking the event. This is a combat zone filled with explosives devices and it is premature to know exactly what happened this afternoon in Rafah,” army spokeswoman Maj. Sharon Feingold said.
The demonstrators were marching down the busy main street of Rafah town, protesting against the Israeli invasion of the nearby Tel Sultan neighborhood in Rafah refugee camp. When the crowd was less than a mile from the besieged camp, the helicopter and tank began firing, witnesses said.
There’s got to be more to the story than this.
Update: Laurence Simon has two posts on this at Command Post giving the Israeli perspective. The Jerusalem Post initially reported that it was a bomb set by Palestinian teenagers that caused the deaths. Later, Dr. Yuval Steinitz acknowledged 15 deaths from a helicopter attack but charged that the Palestinians were committing war crimes.