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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|World Slams Gaza Massacres, Israel Continues Offen|
|10/08/02 at 13:43:28|
|World Slams Gaza Massacres, Israel Continues Offensives|
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, October 8 (News Agencies) - Israel will continue its offensives in spite of U.S. and world criticism of a raid which killed 14 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official said Tuesday, October 8.
"The Israeli army will continue its operations," an official from Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
When asked about Washington's rebuke following Monday's deadly raid in Khan Yunis, he replied that the United States "recognizes Israel's right to defend itself."
"The Americans asked us to avoid all operations likely to hamper their preparations for an attack against Iraq. We are bearing this in mind," the official said.
"We deplore the death of innocent people," the Israeli official claimed, following the Israeli attack in which 14 Palestinian civilians were ruthlessly massacred and scores others wounded.
Israelís closest ally, the United States, condemned the attack.
"We're deeply troubled by the reports of Israeli actions in Gaza over the weekend that resulted in the deaths and wounding of many Palestinian civilians," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Monday night.
"We call on the Israeli military to investigate the circumstances surrounding these deaths and we expect immediate steps to be taken to prevent the recurrence of tragic incidents such as these," Boucher added.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan warned Israel that the massacre could lead to an escalation of the conflict.
"The secretary general deplores the military attack in civilian areas during the incursion by the Israeli Defense Forces early this morning in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis," Annan's spokesman Fred Eckhard said in a statement.
Annan "conveys his deep condolences to the families of the victims," the statement said.
He was "particularly concerned by reports that a missile from an Israeli helicopter gunship was fired into a crowd of civilians in reckless disregard of the obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population," the statement went on.
"Such actions have no legal or moral justification" and would not promote Israel's security, it said.
"Rather, they could lead to a further escalation while increasing the sense of vulnerability and insecurity among Palestinians and Israelis."
Annan again appealed to both sides to halt all violent and provocative acts, as called for by the U.N. Security Council.
The Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Nasser Al-Kidwa, meanwhile, called on the U.N. Security Council to send international observers to protect his people and prevent further bloodshed.
In a letter to the Council president, Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, Kidwa noted that 1,855 Palestinians had been killed by the Israeli occupation army since the start of the Intifada against Israeli occupation just over two years ago.
It is "increasingly apparent that the Council has also to take measures for the protection of the Palestinian people, at least in the form of international observers, to prevent further bloodshed and deterioration of the situation," Kidwa wrote.
He asked for his letter to be distributed as an agenda item of the 10th special emergency session of the U.N. General Assembly, which may be convened when the Security Council is unable to assume its responsibility for international peace and security.
Meanwhile, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher urged Israel Monday to stop its "aggressive and provocative" practices in the wake of the brutal Gaza assault.
"Israel is pursuing its aggression, which is leading to the death of innocent victims daily," Maher told journalists.
"Israel must stop these aggressive and provocative practices," he added.
Maher said it was necessary to call "the states which have Israel's ear to express positions in line with those of the U.N. Security Council resolution," which calls on Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Egyptian minister, without elaborating, also said "an appeal had been sent to convene a meeting of the Al-Quds [Jerusalem] committee" of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), to discuss the assault.
The committee, created in 1975 by the OIC, is chaired by the king of Morocco and groups Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal, Guinea, Niger, Mauritania and Palestine.
The European Union (EU) also condemned the massacre. A statement from the EU presidency condemned "the arbitrary use of extra judicial killings, which will not bring security to the Israeli people."
"There can be no justification for military actions directed indiscriminately against civilian neighborhoods, whether Palestinian or Israeli," the statement read, concluding:
"Military and violent actions only serve to fuel hatred and undermine attempts by the parties and the international community to bring about reconciliation and hope for a peaceful solution to the conflict."
"I regret and condemn very much the acts which have been committed by the Israeli army this morning," said Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller, whose country currently holds the rotating EU presidency.
The EU presidency statement added that the Israeli assault came "at a time where there was hope for a resumption of political talks on implementing the recommendations of the recent Quartet meeting in New York."
On Monday, October 7, Russia also condemned the "disproportionate" use of force by Israel.
"One cannot justify massive military operations which lead to victims among the civilian population," a Russian foreign ministry statement said.
"The scale [of the assault] and especially the use of tanks and aviation in a densely-populated area was clearly disproportionate," it added.
Russia urged the Palestinians and Israelis "not to provoke further destabilization and not to drive the situation in the Middle East into a confrontational deadlock."
France also criticized Israel Monday. "France deplores the ongoing operations of the Israeli army in Khan Yunis that left several dead and wounded, and included shooting at a hospital," said foreign ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau.
Rivasseau said the violence undermined efforts by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, currently in the region, to try to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table.
"The negative signal that these operations send to the Palestinians is a source of concern for us at a time when the efforts of the international community are focused on implementing the road map set out by the quartet as is indicated by the presence of Mr. Solana in the region," he said.
World condemnation continued Tuesday with Iran accusing Israel of "genocide".
"The genocide by Israel in the occupied lands is a direct outcome of the United States' unilateral support for the Zionist regime," the official Iranian News Agency (IRNA) quoted foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi as saying.
"Israeli officials are thumbing their noses at the world and the internationally accepted rules," he added, calling for the United Nations to "end the inhuman actions of the Zionists in Palestine."
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