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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 11:32 GMT 12:32 UK
Gaza schoolgirl dies of injuries
Doctors operate on Ghadir Mokheimer
Doctors fought to save Ghadir's life at Khan Younis hospital
A Palestinian schoolgirl has died of injuries received when she was struck by Israeli fire directed at her school in Gaza on Tuesday.

Ghadir Mokheimer was hit in the chest when troops opened fire towards the school. The Israelis said they returned fire after coming under mortar attack.

A schoolgirl from the same refugee camp in Khan Younis died last month after being shot in the head at her desk.

Israel is facing controversy over a Palestinian girl shot dead last week.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) said Ghadir's shooting was the fourth such incident in less than two years.

Unrwa's Commissioner-General has demanded that such shootings must stop
UN statement
An Unrwa statement said it had "repeatedly called on the Israeli authorities to stop firing at schools".

However, it says Israel routinely denies its soldiers have been involved or invokes the security requirements of its positions.

"Peter Hansen, Unrwa's Commissioner-General has demanded that such shootings must stop," the statement said.

On Tuesday, Israel radio reported that the army was investigating the incident, but a military spokesperson said initial checks had indicated that troops opened fire at Palestinians in the area who were firing mortar shells at an Israeli settlement.

Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip since capturing it in the 1967 war.

The Israeli government intends to begin evacuating the 8,000 Jewish settlers and the troops who protect them in Gaza next year as part of a disengagement plan to enhance Israeli security.

Rafah contradictions

The Israeli army has suspended a platoon commander accused of shooting a wounded Palestinian girl at close range in Rafah in southern Gaza last week.

The military commander for the Gaza Strip has been investigating the death of 13-year-old Iman al-Hams who was gunned down near the Girit army outpost in the Tel Sultan neighbourhood.

"The commander has been suspended from duty. The investigation is ongoing," an army spokeswoman said.

Grieving relatives of Iman al-Hams
Relatives of Iman al-Hams have called her death a crime of hate
Two versions of events have been given about the incident - one by the military and another by soldiers manning the outpost.

The soldiers complained that after the first shots were fired at the girl, the company commander approached her motionless body, fired two shots to her head, and then sprayed her with automatic fire. The commander denied some of the accusations.

Palestinian medics said Iman's body was recovered with 20 bullet wounds in the head and chest.

The army has alleged the girl had been sent to the outpost by Palestinian militants planning to target the soldiers with snipers.

Initially, it said the troops suspected her of carrying a bomb in what later turned out to be her school satchel.

Huweida al-Hams, Iman's mother, described the incident as a "criminal act of hate" in an interview on Monday and called for God's punishment on the Israeli army.

Israel and the Palestinians



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