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ARABS-ISRAEL - June 11 - Hamas Rocket Squads Resume Israel Attacks.

A missile strike from an Israeli helicopter kills two Hamas militants in the northern Gaza Strip after a rocket fires from the territory seriously wounding an Israeli civilian. The air strike comes after Hamas resumed rocket fire for the first time in almost 18 months in response to the deaths of seven Palestinians on a Gaza beach on June 9. The Israeli military said it regretted June 9 deaths but has yet to acknowledge that shelling by its forces was responsible. The army, which routinely fires hundreds of tank rounds a day into Gaza to try to curb home-made rocket fire by other militant groups, suspended shelling pending the outcome of an internal commission, due to report tonight. The June 10 attacks by Hamas rocket squads - at least 17 missiles were fired - targeted the southern Israeli town of Sderot, home of Amir Peretz, defence minister. One rocket hit a school, seriously wounding an Israeli man. In Gaza the military wing of Hamas said in a statement: We have decided to turn Sderot into a ghost town". Residents of the town frequently require treatment for shock following rocket attacks that have caused damage to buildings. However, casualties have been relatively low because of the inaccuracy of the home-made missiles and thanks to an air-raid warning system. The Palestinian deaths on June 9 prompted criticism from Israeli human rights groups that have previously labelled the shelling of north Gaza as reckless. Peretz recently reminded the army that he was counting the shellfire from his home in Sderot, a remark seen as a reminder of the need for caution. The Israeli shelling has been focused on mainly open land in the north of the territory, near the town of Beit Lahiya, which Palestinian civilians are told to avoid. June 9 deaths occurred on a beach near Beit Lahiya, several hundred yards outside the exclusion zone. Israel's PM Ehud Olmert, defended the right of his daughter, Dana, a leftwing academic, to express her own opinions after rightwingers protested against her participation in a demonstration against June 9 killings. Several hundred demonstrators marched on June 10 night to the Tel Aviv home of Dan Halutz, chief of staff, accusing the military of "war crimes".
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Jun 17, 2006
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