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Wednesday, 1 May, 2002, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Huge turnout for Gaza victims
victims
Mourners chanted anti-Israeli slogans
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By Kylie Morris
BBC correspondent in Gaza
line
Thousands of Palestinians have turned out to the funerals of four people killed by Israeli troops in overnight violence in the Gaza Strip.

The bodies of the four were paraded through the streets of Rafah in one massive memorial service.

The dead were a two-year-old child, a civilian man, both from the same family; a military intelligence officer; and a member of the Islamic militant group Hamas.

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An uncle grieves for his niece, Huda Muhammad Shaluf
The first two were killed when their homes were shelled by Israeli tanks.

The Israeli army denies the use of tank shells, but says troops returned fire toward a squad of Palestinian militants who tried to blow up an Israeli tank on patrol along the border.

The exchange took place in a densely populated part of the town.

The two-year-old was killed by shrapnel wounds to the head, the other family member was a man who was deaf and dumb.

The Hamas member and security officer died in a separate incident to the south of the city a few hours later.

An incursion by Israeli tanks into the fringes of a nearby refugee camp led to clashes in which both men were killed.

Masked gunmen

At the funerals, mourners chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation.

The intelligence officer was feted with military honours, while six gunmen wearing masks bore the body of the Hamas member through the streets.

The town of Rafah is more often than not isolated by Israel's closure of roads which run the length of the Gaza Strip.

On Wednesday afternoon at one intersection patrolled by Israeli forces, tanks were driven on to the road, and as many as 60 Palestinian cars were caught between two points.

Violence continues

The occupants were told to get out of their cars, put their hands on their heads, and forced to roll up their shirts and expose their chests.

After half an hour as soldiers inspected, only five were allowed safe passage in the space of two hours.

Further south, tanks and Jeeps surrounded a Palestinian national security post.

While Palestinians in Gaza have escaped the recent trials of those who live on the West Bank, the low-level violence continues.

See also:

01 May 02 | Middle East
Deal close on Arafat freedom
29 Apr 02 | Middle East
Expert weighs up Jenin 'massacre'
30 Apr 02 | Middle East
Palestinians leave besieged church
29 Apr 02 | Middle East
Ramallah deal hinges on prisoners
30 Apr 02 | Middle East
Pope to send Mid-East envoy
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