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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 02:38 GMT 03:38 UK
Israel condemned for Gaza raid
Members of al-Aqsa at funeral
Hamas and al-Aqsa have vowed revenge
The United States has said it is "deeply troubled" by an Israeli raid in the Gaza Strip in which at least 14 Palestinians were killed.

A US State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said the raid took place in crowded civilian areas, and involved firing on a medical facility.


We expect immediate steps to be taken to prevent the recurrence of tragic incidents such as these

Richard Boucher
US State Department
The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, has also condemned the raid, which took place in the town of Khan Younis.

Hamas and another Palestinian militant group have vowed to carry out new suicide attacks inside Israel in response to the raid, in which it was reported that a missile was fired into a civilian crowd.

Strong words

Mr Annan said he was particularly concerned by the reports - an action which he said showed a reckless disregard for international humanitarian law.

The BBC's correspondent at the UN Greg Barrow said that in diplomatic terms this was a strong message from Mr Annan.

UN officials say Mr Annan has grown increasingly concerned about the effect of Israeli military operations on Palestinian civilians.

They say that while he accepts Israel's right to protect itself against attack, he is troubled by the Israeli military's apparent disregard for civilian lives.

Doctors said about 100 people were wounded in the attack, which involved tanks and helicopters.

The Israeli army says most of those who died were gunmen from the militant group, Hamas.

Circumstances unclear

Mr Boucher called upon the Israeli military to "investigate the circumstances surrounding these deaths".

Funeral in Khan Younis
Hundreds crowded into a mosque to pray for the dead

He added that the US Government "expect immediate steps to be taken to prevent the recurrence of tragic incidents such as these".

Shortly before Mr Boucher spoke the Israeli troops pulled back from Khan Younis where Israel said its forces were destroying a "terrorist infrastructure" following an overnight mortar attack on a nearby Jewish settlement.

Earlier as angry crowds attended funerals of the victims, Palestinian senior negotiator Saeb Erekat described the killings as a "war crime".

Peace sabotaged

Mr Erekat said the Israeli raid was timed to disrupt the visit of Javier Solana, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, to the region.

"Every time we witness efforts to revive the peace process... the Israeli Government moves to conduct such war crimes," Mr Erekat said.

Mr Solana himself condemned the Israeli raid and expressed shock at the number of casualties.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Gaza says Khan Younis is one of the bloodiest front lines of resistance in the conflict.

She says the city, home to 100,000 Palestinian refugees, has been increasingly encircled by Jewish settlements and Israeli military bases.

It is a stronghold of Hamas, which has been behind some of the suicide attacks against Israelis.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"There is no compromise here"
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana
"Many Palestinians are trying to move to non-violence"
Jerusalem Post's managing editor Calev Ben-David
"Israel may have been trying to send a message"

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07 Oct 02 | Middle East
07 Oct 02 | Middle East
07 Oct 02 | Middle East
06 Oct 02 | Middle East
30 Sep 02 | Middle East
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