Annan condemns Gaza killings
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement on Friday: “The secretary general is deeply disturbed at the killing of civilians, including women and children, on a beach in Gaza earlier today.”
He added that the UN chief “reminds all concerned of their obligations under international humanitarian law to avoid placing civilians in danger, while urging the utmost restraint to avoid further escalation and bloodshed.”
France described the killings as “disproportionate” and Moscow condemned them as “unacceptable”.
Ten Palestinians were killed on Friday by the Israeli military.
- Seven people, including five members of the same family, died when an Israeli artillery shell reportedly landed on a Gaza beach.
- Three Palestinians were killed as they prepared to launch a rocket attack on Israel, the Israeli army said. Palestinians said they were civilians.
The deaths came following Israel’s killing of a senior Palestinian militia member, Jamal Abu Samhadana, on Thursday.
Hamas has said it will end its 16-month agreement not to launch attacks on Israel in response to the incidents.
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas says it has carried out its first rocket attack on Israel since it ended a 16-month truce.
The group’s military wing, Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, said on Saturday it had fired seven rockets, including one at the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon.
Hamas said it carried out the attack in response to Friday’s Israeli artillery fire and other raids which killed 10 Palestinians, including women and children on a beach outing.
An Israeli military spokesman confirmed six rockets were fired on Saturday, of which one reached Israeli territory without causing damage or injury.
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, confirmed the group would renew its attacks.
“I believe that amid the continued bloodshed of our people and the horrific images of massacres, there is no place for silence.”
But Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said the Brigades’ statement meant little because Hamas had been helping other groups to carry out rocket attacks well before Friday.
Israeli air strikes and artillery fire killed 10 Palestinians on Friday, the highest Palestinian toll in a single day since late 2004, Palestinian officials said. Around 35 people were injured.
Among the dead were three siblings aged one, three and 10, along with their parents at a beach in the northern Gaza Strip.
Palestinians said seven people in all were killed at the beach by an Israeli shell. The army said it was too early to be certain.
“This may have been an accident which caused an artillery shell to fall off course, or an older unexploded shell which went off, or perhaps an explosive device which was tinkered with,” Major-General Yoav Galant, head of the southern command, said.
He said he was sorry for the loss of civilian life.
Israel said it was investigating whether its forces were responsible for the beach killing in an area it had been shelling to stop resistance fighters from firing rockets over the border.
Dan Halutz, the Israeli military’s chief of general staff, later suspended the bombardments.
Israel earlier killed three men in an air strike on what the army said was a rocket crew. Palestinians said they were civilians. Rocket fire had intensified on Friday following Israel’s killing of a senior militant the day before.
Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, who is also a Hamas leader, called the Israeli beach attack a “war crime” and urged Jordan and Egypt, both mediators in past Israeli-Palestinian talks, to intervene.
Hamas, which has run the Palestinian government since March after winning parliamentary elections in January, spearheaded a bombing campaign during a Palestinian uprising that broke out in 2000.
Attack on official
In a separate development, four people were wounded on Saturday after supporters of Hamas fired on the car of a top Palestinian security official in Gaza City, witnesses said.
The car of General Rashid Abu Shabak, the Palestinian director of internal security, came under fire on the sidelines of a funeral for another security official killed during the night by suspected Hamas activists, witnesses said.
A source in the Palestinian security forces confirmed to AFP that Shabak’s car came under fire. Shabak was not injured in the incident, but an exchange of gunfire between his bodyguards and Hamas supporters slightly wounded three security officials and a civilian, witnesses and medical sources said.
Shabak is a top official of the Fatah faction, which is loyal to the Palestinian president.