Six Palestinians killed in Gaza

Three Palestinians were killed and 32 wounded on Tuesday when Israeli helicopter missiles struck Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip just hours after Israel attempted to kill a prominent Hamas leader.

Three dead in Jabalya refugee

Gaza hospital officials said all three people killed – two males and one female – were civilians from the same family.


The helicopter attack came after Palestinian resistance fighters launched five rockets into the Israeli town of Sderot, wounding at least one person.


Israeli occupation forces said the helicopter was trying to target the fighters, who were located running off from an area where the launching of rockets occurred.


The fighters were among those wounded, according to hospital sources.


The Palestinian salvo of rockets was a response to a failed attempt by Israel to assassinate a leading Hamas leader, Abd al-Aziz al-Rantissi, earlier in the day.


Al-Rantissi told Aljazeera from his hospital bed in Gaza that he survived after jumping out of his car immediately after the first missile hit.


He vowed that his group would keep up its military operations against Israel.


“We will continue our jihad (holy war) and resistance until we kick out every single criminal Zionist from our land”, al-Rantissi said.


Al-Rantissi sustained injuries to his leg and arm and he had a superficial wound to his chest.


Hamas supporters gathered outside the hospital where al-Rantissi was being treated shortly after the attack.


They chanted slogans against Israel and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, reported Aljazeera’s correspondent.


The helicopter attack killed two passers-by, a five-year-old girl and her mother, and one of al-Rantissi’s bodyguards.


Another 35 people were injured in the attack.


The second attack on Jabalya raised the toll of Palestinians on Tuesday to six.


Attack sparks criticism


Abbas described the Israeli attempt as a “terrorist attack”.


Last week, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and US President George W. Bush at the Aqaba summit in Jordan to push forward with a US-sponsored “road map”.


Abbas called on the United States to act immediately in response to the Israeli attack.


Even the United States criticised Israel. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said US President George W. Bush was “deeply troubled” by the Israeli attack.


Fleischer said the president was concerned that it would “undermine efforts by Palestinian authorities and others to bring an end to terrorist attacks”.


Bush said the attempt on al-Rantissi’s life was a potential setback for the “road map” plan that he has strongly backed.


UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan “calls again on the government of Israel to desist from disproportionate use of force, especially in densely populated areas”.


Eckhard said Annan expressed  “serious concern over today’s attempted extra-judicial killing”.

The attack “was likely to complicate even further the efforts by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to halt violence”.


However Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said after the assassination attempt that Israel would continue to “act against the enemies of peace”.

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