solid | 08.09.2004 15:26
By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Agencies
At least 14 Palestinians were killed and 30 wounded when Israel Air Force
helicopters hit a Hamas site in Gaza City around midnight Monday, witnesses
Four of the casualties are critically wounded, and witnesses said all were
either members of the Hamas military wing or supporters.
The strike targeted a Hamas community center complex, including a building
and a yard, that the army says is used by the Hamas military wing for
Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri denied that the targeted field was used for
training, calling it a summer camp for Palestinian youth.
However, dozens of members of the Hamas military wing, Iz a-Din al-Qassam,
were meeting at the building during the time of the attack, Palestinian
sources said. The building is named after Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed
Yassin, who was assassinated by Israel in April.
IAF helicopter gunships fired at least five missiles at the building,
located in the Sajaiya neighborhood in the eastern part of Gaza City, a
known Hamas stronghold, witnesses said. The helicopters hovered overhead
after the explosions.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the security establishment decided in the
wake of last week's double bus bombing in Be'er Sheva, for which Hamas
claimed responsibility, to increase assassinations of Hamas militants in
the Gaza Strip. Sixteen Israelis were killed in last Tuesday's attack.
Angry militants gathered at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, some with blood on
their clothes from helping victims, shouting, "Revenge, revenge."
Al-Masri said, "This bloody crime is a new wave of aggression committed
against our people and against our sons," blaming Israel. "It's an ongoing
war. One day for us and one day for them."