Gaza strikes prompt rare Israeli criticism

24 October 2003
In a rare display of public censure, ministers from Israel's ruling coalition have spoken out against the country's military for launching a missile attack in the Gaza Strip, which killed seven and injured about 100 Palestinians. The army has denied firing into a crowded area and released video footage which it says substantiates its claim.

'We should not carry out mass killings in order to strike two or three terrorists,' Israeli Interior Minister Avraham Poraz said on 21 October, the day after the army blew up a car which it said was carrying 'a group of terrorists' in Nusseirat refugee camp. 'I would rather [the suspects] escape.' The attack was one of five that the army carried out in the Occupied Territories on 20 October.

The strikes took place as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that Israel would continue to attack Palestinian militants as long as the Palestinian Authority failed to rein them in. Sharon also pledged to speed up construction of the so-called security fence that is being built around and within the West Bank. The UN on 22 October voted overwhelmingly to condemn the wall, but the US had earlier vetoed a similar Security Council resolution.

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