UN: 2 UNRWA workers among 10 killed in IDF Gaza
Two United Nations workers - a man and a woman - were among ten Palestinians killed
in an early-morning IDF incursion in the Gaza Strip, the organization said Friday.
The two, employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, were killed in
chaotic gunbattles sparked as IDF troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships hunted
a fugitive militant in a crowded Gaza refugee camp.
One IDF soldier was lightly wounded in the incursion, the army said.
Men called through mosque loudspeakers for people to come out and battle the troops,
who entered the camp just after midnight. Fighters who had been celebrating the Islamic
festival of Id el-Fidr, which marks the end of Ramadan, poured into the dark streets.
Gunbattles raged for three hours in the Bureij camp.
Peter Hansen, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, the UN agency providing aid for
Palestinian refugees, slammed the IDF's use of "indiscriminate use of heavy firepower" in
an area populated by civilians.
"This loss of civilian lives, of people working for a humanitarian UN agency, is
completely unacceptable," he said from Geneva. "I must condemn what appears to be the
indiscriminate use of heavy firepower in a densely populated civilian area."
Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, representing the European Union, warned
Israel that using "excessive might" could backfire.
"It's deeply tragic that completely innocent people again have been killed," Moeller told
reporters in Copenhagen. "It creates a new fundament for more terrorism, it creates
The two were identified by UNRWA as Osama Hassan Tahrawi, a 31-year-old school
attendant who was killed along with two of his brothers by a missile, and Ahlam Riziq
Kandil, 31, an elementary school teacher who died from shrapnel wounds.
Following the raid, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Israel to show restraint, a
Annan was "gravely concerned" by the attack on the Bureij refugee camp by Israeli troops
backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, UN chief spokesman Fred Eckhard said, noting
the assault fell during Eid al-Fitr, one of Islam's most important holidays.
"The secretary-general deplores the loss of innocent civilian life. He has repeatedly urged
Israel to refrain from the excessive and disproportionate use of deadly force in civilian
areas," Eckhard said.
"He wishes to remind the government of Israel of its obligations as an occupying power
to protect the civilian population, and urges them to ensure that the Israeli Defense Forces
behave with greater restraint and discipline and in conformity with international
humanitarian law," Eckhard said.
It was unclear how many of the dead were fighters. Palestinian sources said there were a
number of civilian fatalities. The camp's mayor, Kamal Baghdadi, had originally said a
tank shell had hit a building, killing seven people, while the IDF said a helicopter fired a
missile into a street, killing five Hamas members.
The army said that the majority of the wounded were armed Palestinians who sustained
their injuries during the fighting. The commander of the Givati Brigade, Colonel Eimad
Farres, hailed the incursion as successful and indicated that soldiers had only fired at
armed Palestinians. ....
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