BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Friday, 27 September, 2002, 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK
Annan deplores Israel's Gaza attack
Israel says it was targeting a Hamas commander
The car was destroyed by two direct hits
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has condemned an Israeli missile attack in the Gaza Strip that killed at least two Palestinians and wounded about 40 others.

Kofi Annan
Annan issued a firm statement on Thursday's events
Mr Annan called on Israel to halt military action in densely-populated areas, and said he was deeply concerned about the possible consequences of the attack.

Israeli security officials initially said they believed the missile attack on a car in Gaza City had killed a senior figure in the militant Palestinian group Hamas, Mohammed Deif, although Palestinian sources denied that he had died.

On Friday, an Israeli cabinet minister said he had received reports that Mr Deif had been injured but had not suffered a life-threatening injury.

"The secretary-general deplores the Government of Israel's military action today in Gaza City," said his spokesman.

"He calls on the Government of Israel to halt such actions and conduct itself in a manner that is fully consistent with international humanitarian law."

Revenge call

The two confirmed dead were both members of Hamas.

Israeli television reported that Mr Deif was killed, but Hamas leaders insisted he was still alive.

He escaped a similar Israeli attack last year, when he jumped out of a car seconds before it was struck by a missile.

Witnesses said a car received two direct hits in the attack in a crowded area of Gaza City.

According to Hamas officials, an aide of Mr Deif, Abdel-Rahim Hamdan, was killed along with a second as yet unidentified man.

Hamas has vowed to step up suicide bombings inside Israel to avenge the attack.

The strike occurred in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood - a Hamas stronghold in the north of Gaza City.

Israeli tank in Yasser Arafat's compound
The Israeli PM says the siege in Ramallah is justified
The BBC's correspondent James Rodgers says Israeli helicopters were heard in the skies over Gaza at around lunchtime.

"Suddenly we heard the sound of a big explosion," said Mohammed Hajar, a hairdresser working in the area.

"When I ran out, a second explosion took place."

A large crowd gathered at the scene as rescue workers led the wounded to ambulances.

Palestinian officials say several children were among the wounded.

The latest violence brings Thursday's death toll to seven.

Earlier in the West Bank, a 14-month-old Palestinian baby died after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers enforcing a curfew in Hebron.

The International Red Crescent organisation says this is thought to be the first time a child has died of tear gas inhalation during the current violence.

Siege defended

Four other people died in clashes across the Palestinian territories on Thursday, including an Israeli officer killed in a gun battle.

The army officer died near the northern West Bank town of Tulkarm in an exchange of fire in which a member of Hamas was also killed.

Also on Thursday, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defended Israel's siege of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound.

He said wanted men holed up inside the compound are "the biggest terrorists that exist".

Israeli forces invaded and started destroying the compound on 19 September following two suicide bomb attacks in two days.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Jerusalem
"After 12 hours of confusion, Mohammed Deif has not been killed"
Mark Regev, the Israeli Embassy in Washington
"There can be no doubt that this man is a legitimate target"
Khalil Shikaki, Center for Policy Research, Ramallah
"The chances are slim that we are able to go back to the peace process"

Key stories




See also:

26 Sep 02 | Middle East
26 Sep 02 | Middle East
24 Sep 02 | Middle East
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |