[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 19:57 GMT 20:57 UK
Israel 'to step up Gaza shelling'
Mourners at funeral of Hadil Ghraben
Injured survivors attended the funeral of child victim Hadil Ghraben
Israel has said it will intensify its artillery bombardment of the Gaza Strip to deter rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on its territory.

Officials said they regretted the recent deaths of a number of Palestinian civilians but were set on stopping the rocket attacks.

An eight-year-old girl killed by a shell on Monday has been buried.

She was the 16th Palestinian to die in Israeli air and artillery attacks on Gaza in the past four days.

You [the Israeli army] didn't hit the people who fired the rockets, you hit the little kids and civilians
Mohammed
Father of child victim Hadil Ghraben

For months, the Israeli army has been firing artillery rounds into open areas of northern Gaza in an effort to strike at, or deter, militants.

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said the shelling was in direct response to militant attacks.

"As long as calm does not prevail on the Israeli side, neither will it do so on the Palestinian side," he said. "Our operations are going to intensify."

The Palestinians' new Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, accused Israel of trying to bring the Palestinian people "to their knees" and "strangling" his government.

Apology

People gathered in a clearing next to an olive grove on Tuesday to mourn the latest civilian victim of the shelling, eight-year-old Hadil Ghraben.

Israeli artillery fires shell towards Gaza Strip on 11 April
Israel has used self-propelled guns and planes to attack Gaza

She was watching television in her house in the northern village of Beit Lahiya when an Israeli shell came crashing through the roof, killing her instantly.

Seven of her brothers and sisters were hurt.

The Israelis admit there was no militant rocket fire from the area at the time but they say there had been earlier, and that they had been trying to deter more.

An army officer telephoned to apologise to Hadil's father, Mohammed, but he was unimpressed.

"I told him 'you didn't hit the people who fired the rockets, you hit the little kids and civilians'," Mohammed told the BBC.

" 'What did those kids do? They were at home, inside. And now you call to apologise'."

Revenge vow

There was a chaotic scene as Hadil's body arrived from the hospital to be borne through the crowd of grieving relatives.

A woman among the mourners delivered a message for the Israelis: "We will cut you to pieces, I swear it, just as you have done to us."

The BBC's Alan Johnston, who was at the funeral, said militants with guns, from organisations like Islamic Jihad, were moving among the mourners.

It is groups like these that are firing rockets into Israel, saying they are responding to Israel's escalation of the violence and the killing of militants in recent days, our correspondent says.

For its part, Israel says it is determined to stamp out the rocket fire and it is using its big guns more and more aggressively, he adds.


Israel and the Palestinians

KEY STORIES

FEATURES & ANALYSIS

Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy

VIDEO AND AUDIO


PROFILES

 



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific