World Horrified by Beit Hanun Massacre

WORLD CAPITALS — World countries, the US excluded, reacted with horrified shock on Wednesday, November 8, to the Israeli shelling of Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip that killed the lives of twenty civilians, including eight children.

"This brutal collective punishment of a people, not a government, has passed largely unnoticed by the international community," lamented John Dugard, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Territories, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP).

He blasted failure by the quartet overseeing the moribund Middle East peace process — the EU, the UN, Russia and the US — to staunch the Palestinian bloodshed.

"The quartet … has done little to halt Israel’s attacks.

"Worse still, the (UN) security council has failed to adopt any resolution on the subject or attempt to restore peace to the region," said the UN official.

"The time has come for urgent action."

Israeli occupation forces bombarded houses in the battered northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanun, killing twenty Palestinians, including eight children and four women, in their sleep.

Pools of blood lay in the streets of Beit Hanoun as pieces of flesh and the small sandals of children were strewn about.

At least 40 people had been wounded in the Israeli offensive.

Dugard asserted that the devastating onslaught Israel unleashed in June had left 300 people dead and caused "large scale devastation" of homes and public facilities.

He accused Israel of destroying farmland, cutting off power, food and water supplies and imprisoning the people of Gaza.


Condemnations poured in from the United Nations, the European Union and Europe over what Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called a "black day".

The UN special envoy for the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, said he was "deeply shocked and appalled" by the Israeli shellings.

He urged Israel "to call off these and other military operations without delay."

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner also criticized the Israeli offensive.

"The killing this morning of so many civilians in Gaza, including many children, is a profoundly shocking event."

The EU stressed that while Israel had the right to defend itself this must not be "at the price of the lives of the innocent."

Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett echoed a similar position.

"It is hard to see what this action was meant to achieve and how it can be justified," she said.

"Israel must respect its obligation to avoid harming civilians."

The International Red Cross (ICRC) accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law which "strictly prohibits" attacks on civilians and homes.

The US asked Palestinians to refrain from retaliating the Israeli onslaught which it called a "terrible tragedy".

National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe called on "all parties to show restraint so as to avoid any harm to innocent civilians."

The deadly Israeli shelling came just five days before Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert is scheduled to meet US President George W. Bush at the White House.

War Crimes

The pan-Arab organization and the world’s largest Islamic body condemned the new Israeli massacre" against innocent Palestinian civilians.

"These massacres of children, women and civilians are unjustified and incomprehensible and unexpected," said Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the 22-member Arab League.

"Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories have gone too far."

Moussa called for an emergency meeting of foreign ministers, urging Arab countries to "send a strong message to Israel and to stop matters from progressing in this manner."

Jordan’s King Abdullah II condemned the "horrible massacre" and pledged to "exert all the efforts necessary to stop the Israeli military operations".

Syria accused Israel of "state terrorism" and urged the UN Security Council to "punish Israel for its repeated crimes".

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, joined Italy, Russia and Turkey in rebuking Israel for using excessive force.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) accused Israel of war crimes.

"This affirms that Israel scorns international law and insists on continuing to commit war crimes and violate the Fourth Geneva Convention," it said in a statement.

The OIC asked the UN Security Council to take urgent measures "to stop the Israeli attack and to guarantee the protection of the Palestinian people from Israel’s brutality and state terrorism"

© (Nov. 8, 2006)

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