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April 11, 2003
 
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(Reuters Photo)
Israeli Fire Critically Wounds British Activist

Reuters


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April 11

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Israeli troops shot and critically wounded a 21-year-old British peace activist helping Palestinian children cross a street under gunfire Friday, fellow activists and hospital officials said.

Tom Handoll was one of 12 members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who Thursday went to the Rafah refugee camp on the Egyptian border to protest at continued Israeli shooting in the area, said ISM member Nick Smith.

According to Smith, Handoll was shot in the head as he tried to help a group of children cross a street in an area under Israeli gunfire.

Ali Musa, director of the Rafah hospital, said Handoll's brain had been damaged and that he was "clinically dead."

The army was checking the report.

ISM is a group that positions its activists as "human shields" around the West Bank and Gaza. Last week it said Israeli soldiers had shot and severely wounded one of its activists in Jenin.

Last month, an American ISM member, Rachel Corrie, was crushed to death by an Israeli armored bulldozer in Gaza.

The army called that incident a "regrettable accident," saying the driver could not see Corrie as she tried to block the bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home in a flashpoint border area. ISM said Corrie was run over deliberately.

An ISM member who gave her name only as Alison said Handoll had gone to Iraq to act as a human shield against U.S-led coalition troops and then to Jordan to help Iraqi refugees before joining the movement in Gaza.

HELICOPTERS FIRED MISSILES

Also Friday, Israeli helicopter gunships fired three missiles into a cemetery bordering on a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, setting off gun battles nearby in which three Palestinians were wounded, witnesses said.

It was not immediately clear why Israel fired into the cemetery and the army had no comment on the incident. Military sources however, confirmed soldiers had been operating in the area.

Palestinian witnesses said they suspected the helicopter had neutralized a booby trap set up by Israel against a wanted militant living near the cemetery after it was discovered by Palestinian youth.

The army had no immediate comment on the Palestinian suspicions.

In the past week, Israeli missile strikes have twice targeted Islamic militants in Gaza, Thursday killing a bomb expert and Tuesday a senior militant and six others.

Israel has tracked and killed dozens of militants during the 30-month Palestinian uprising for statehood. Palestinians call the practice state-sponsored assassination and Israel calls it self-defense.

At least 1,987 Palestinians and 729 Israelis have been killed since the uprising flared after negotiations on a Palestinian state froze.


photo credit and caption:
Palestinians inspect damage to car after it was hit by a missile from Israeli helicopters in Gaza April 10, 2003. Israeli helicopter gunships fired two missiles at a car in Gaza City, killing one Palestinian, Palestinian security sources and medics said. Photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters

Copyright 2003 Reuters News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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