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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 November 2006, 13:35 GMT
Gaza town stunned by shelling
By Matthew Price
BBC News, Beit Hanoun

Beit Hanoun house hit by Israeli tank fire
Homes were left standing, but inside there was great destruction

This street in Beit Hanoun is very, very quiet indeed. It's just a matter of hours since a number of Israeli shells fell on houses in this area, killing 18 people, including six children and two women.

We counted about eight impacts. The shells appear to have landed roughly in a straight line, starting in the fields at the end of the street and hitting houses on either side of it.

A pen for livestock was struck by one of the explosions and the animals are lying dead on the ground.

There are pools of bloodstained water outside one of the houses, which has had a hole blown through the roof and there are shrapnel marks everywhere from the explosion.

Shock and incomprehension

A woman just walked past me crying, being helped by some of her neighbours.

Young casualty from Beit Hanoun incident
Most of the victims were from the same branch of the same family
Most people are shocked and uncomprehending about what happened in their street during the night.

A father of one child who was killed told me: "One missile I believe could have been a mistake, but the number of missiles that were fired, I can't believe that was a mistake."

A resident who works in one of Gaza's hospitals says: "I have not seen injuries like this for a long time."

"The shrapnel severed peoples hands and arms and they were left lying on the ground," Dr Ali said.

He had been sleeping in his bedroom when the shells struck the next door building. The windows of his bedroom had been blasted out and there was glass on the ground.

Dr Ali tells the same story as everyone I spoke to, that there had been no anti-Israeli attacks by Palestinian militants from this area, as the Israeli military claims, before the shells struck.

"I did not get woken up by anything during the night. There was no sign of rocket fire during the night," Dr Ali said.

It seems clear that rockets have been fired from near this area in the past, but there appears to have been nothing on that night.


Raed Ibrahim tells me that all the dead came from the same branch of the same family.

"I am angry. I hate the US, I hate George W Bush, I hate of course Israel. I also hate the Arab states which do nothing to help and the international community," said Raed.

But it was not anger in his eyes, it was more like an immense sadness that showed through.

That mood was shared by most of the people we saw, many of them slumped tearfully against walls in the street.

Normally when something like this happens members of armed groups turn up and chant slogans with their loudspeakers.

But this time we only saw one militant appear, and he quickly vanished again.

The injured are rushed to hospital

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