by Palestine Media Center | Palestine Media Center | 8 May 2003
A Palestinian toddler was killed Wednesday when Israeli tanks opened fire at residential neighborhoods in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis.
Witnesses said Elian Bashiti, 18 months old, was hit in the head by a bullet and later died at a local hospital.
Palestinian witnesses said Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) fired at a neighborhood in Khan Younis, and that the boy was in his house when he was hit.
Medical sources said al-Bashiti sustained serious-to-critical wounds and died a few hours after he arrived to the hospital.
An IOF spokesperson claimed that Israeli occupation soldiers at an outpost guarding a nearby illegal Israeli settlement had come under fire from Palestinians and returned fire.
Later, a statement published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the IOF admitted killing Bashsiti and described the toddler’s death as “a very unfortunate incident, but the soldiers were forced to fire at the source of the shooting.”
Hundreds of Palestinian children and babies have been either killed or injured by Israeli occupation army gunfire since the Palestinian Intifada against occupation erupted more that 31 months ago.
Later, another Palestinian identified as Ahmed Jouda, 18, was shot by IOF in northern Gaza.
No immediate details were available on the circumstances of his death.
Also in the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian woman critically wounded during an Israeli military raid on Khan Younis last week, died of her wounds Thursday in Gaza City, Palestinian medical sources said.
Ikram Eqdeh, 22, died in Gaza’s Shifa hospital, the sources added.
In the West Bank, another Palestinian was killed in a mysterious explosion in a house in Zawata, a village near the city of Nablus.
However, Palestinians described the killing of 28-year-old Amin Fadel as an assassination by Israel.
According to reports, the blast went off at about 8:30 A.M. and that according to the mayor of Zawata, Israeli occupation troops had imposed a curfew on the village several hours before the explosion.
Israeli army sources denied any involvement adding that the explosion was probably a “work accident,” a term describing a bomb that went off prematurely.
Israel has launched numerous attacks targeting Palestinian activists during the 31-month Intifada, killing many of them.
Israeli occupation army used various methods in killing the activists, including air-to-surface missiles, special assassination squads, or even bobby trapped devices and many by passers were killed during these attacks, according to Palestinian security sources.
12,000 Palestinians Made Homeless by Israeli Demolition Spree
In another matter, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said Wednesday that the total number of Palestinians made homeless by Israelis military demolition campaign climbed above 12,000 this month following a rapid acceleration of the Israeli demolition policy in Gaza during the first quarter of this year.
Since the beginning of the Intifada in September 2000 until April 30 2003, a total of 12,737 people had seen their homes demolished in Gaza and the West Bank.
According to UNRWA, recent months have seen a sharp increase in house demolitions in the Gaza Strip.
Until the end of 2002, total and partial demolitions had averaged fewer than 30 per month.
In the first three months of 2003, 221 homes were demolished or damaged beyond repair -- making an average of 74 per month. These alone housed 401 families or about 2,273 persons.
UNRWA has so far been able to complete only 158 new shelters for homeless families and is working on 160 more.
A further 471 houses, including those destroyed during Israeli occupation army’s massive invasion of Jenin in April 2002, are at the planning and design stage.