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Last Updated: Friday, 14 April 2006, 17:13 GMT 18:13 UK
Gaza under intense bombardment
By Matthew Price
BBC Jerusalem

Since the start of April, Israeli forces say they have fired more than 2,000 artillery shells into the northern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military says this in retaliation for a growing number of rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

Relatives of an eight-year-old Gazan girl killed by Israeli shelling
Relatives mourn an eight-year-old Gazan girl killed this week
On a ridge just outside the Gaza Strip the dark green camouflaged weapons of the Israeli army are firing round after round. Loud booms echo across the dusty fields.

A few miles away, inside the Gaza Strip, there are tractors ploughing the fields.

Then an Israeli artillery shell whistles overhead.

There is a loud explosion as the shell hits the ground. A cloud of dust is thrown up.

The shell lands just a few metres away from a farmer. He emerges from the dust, and gets back to his work.

Israel is targeting the open areas used by Palestinian militants, but even one of the world's most modern armies makes mistakes.

Home hit

I was in Beit Lahiya a few days ago just after the latest accident.

An artillery round had crashed through the roof of a house.

As long as calm does not prevail on the Israeli side, neither will it do so on the Palestinian side. Our operations are going to intensify
Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz
Israel said Palestinian militants had fired a rocket from the area two hours earlier. Its artillery had struck back.

One boy wept as he told me the rocket had injured members of his extended family.

"About 10 were injured", he said.

Has anyone died, I asked.

"A girl, about eight years old."

The round killed eight-year-old Hadil Ghaben - and injured her brothers and sisters.

The next day they sat at her funeral, her three-year-old sister confused, sombre, her face bandaged and scarred.


According to Palestinian medical sources, 40 Palestinians have been injured in the last week and 90 children have been treated for shock.

Hadil was the second civilian killed in seven days from the artillery bombardment.

Children hear the alarm when the rockets are fired and they have 20 seconds to find a place to hide
Penina Ragolsky
Israeli living near Gaza

Israel's shelling is becoming common place. On average, 150 artillery rounds a day are being fired into Gaza.

Day and night, the sound booms across the city and the surrounding areas. It echoes along the streets. Sometimes it shakes the buildings.

In one half-hour period, I counted at least 25 explosions.

Crude weapon

Israel says it is shelling Gaza because Palestinian militants are firing homemade rockets from the Gaza Strip towards Israeli civilian targets.

As they take off, these rockets leave a trail of white smoke. They zip around randomly in the sky, before heading in the rough direction they have been aimed at.

They are makeshift and crude, but Israelis have been killed and injured by them in the past.

"One of them went straight into our house, and from the explosion she was killed," says Penina Ragolsky, of her son's girlfriend. "A lovely girl."

Israeli tank near Gaza
Israel has recently been firing 150 shells into Gaza every day
Mrs Ragolsky lives across the front line, in a small Israeli village close to Gaza.

"Children hear the alarm [when the rockets are fired] and they have 20 seconds to find a place to hide."

Israel feels it has no option but to shell Gaza.

"As long as calm does not prevail on the Israeli side, neither will it do so on the Palestinian side," Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz said this week. "Our operations are going to intensify."

There have been more than 70 Palestinian rockets fired in the last two weeks. Israel has fired more than 2,000 artillery shells at Gaza. Israel says if the Palestinian Authority won't stop the attacks, then it will.

Penina Ragolsky said the rockets come most days at the moment. "When I am out I hear the alarm and I look in the sky and I say 'where will it fall now?'"

That is what Gaza's Palestinian are also wondering.

There are many who tell you they wish the militants would stop firing at Israel, since Israel always hits back harder, and it is the civilians who suffer.

Israel hoped when it withdrew from the crowded Gaza Strip last summer, that its problems there would end.

But, for now at least, neither side is talking about backing down.

Israel and the Palestinians



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




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