- (Aljazeera + Agencies) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
has strongly condemned Israel's continued destruction of Palestinian homes
in the Gaza Strip.
- Annan cited on Saturday reports of the frenzied demolition
"of scores of buildings in the Rafah refugee camp over the last two
days, in addition to 130 residential buildings already destroyed this month."
- "The secretary-general has repeatedly called on
the government of Israel to address its security needs within the boundaries
of international law," UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said in a statement
- "He urges Israel to uphold its obligations as an
occupying power by immediately halting such actions, which are tantamount
to collective punishment and a clear violation of international law,"
- The statements came shortly before Israel's Supreme Court
imposed a temporary ban on the demolitions to halt Israeli army plans to
raze dozens more houses to widen the corridor it controls on the border
- The injunction, sought by a Palestinian rights group,
was issued after troops had already destroyed more than 80 homes in Rafah
in southern Gaza during an invasion in which seven soldiers were killed.
- Judges were due to discuss the issue on Sunday.
- Homeless Palestinians
- The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said the army
had destroyed nearly 90 buildings, leaving more than 1000 people homeless.
- "On entering the camp this morning, we found 88
buildings demolished which had housed 206 families. It affects 1064 people,"
said spokesman Paul McCann.
- "It is probably one of the worst days of the Intifada
for Rafah which has already been hit very hard," McCann told reporters.
- The body of a Palestinian was found under the rubble
of his Rafah home after it was demolished by the army, security sources
- The Israeli army did not give a figure for the number
of houses it had razed, but a spokeswoman claimed troops had demolished
only houses which were being used as cover by fighters.
- "We only destroyed houses after we were attacked
by people hiding in them," she said, adding that some houses may have
been damaged in the violent clashes in the city over the past two days.
- UNRWA has said that more than 11,000 people have been
made homeless in Rafah through house demolitions during the Intifada.
- Assassination attempt
- Meanwhile, an Islamic Jihad leader, Muhammad al-Shaikh
Khalil escaped an assassination attempt by Israel after a helicopter fired
missiles at a property on Yibna in the southern Gaza Strip, Aljazeera's
correspondent in Gaza reported.
- The attack caused unknown casualties, the correspondent
- The army made no comment on the attempt to hit Khalil,
saying instead it had destroyed an explosives lab belonging to the group.
- "The explosive lab of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad
in Rafah served as a key centre for planning terrorist activities as well
as the production of weapons," it said in a statement, adding that
it was used for storing weapons smuggled under the border with Egypt.
- "This is the third structure, used as a main focal
point for terrorist activity which was targetted by the IDF on May 15 in
the Gaza Strip," it said, naming the other two targets in Gaza City
as "a guise for recruiting and activating terrorists."
- Earlier strikes
- Two earlier strikes, which took place before dawn, targeted
Islamic Jihad leader, Muhammad al-Hindi, Palestinian security sources said.
- The failed assassination attempts came after a week in
which 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, most of them in two deadly
attacks claimed by Islamic Jihad.
- In the first strike, a helicopter fired three missiles
at a building housing the group's headquarters, destroying the three-storey
edifice in Gaza City's el-Rimal quarter, they sources said. Five people
were wounded but al-Hindi was not among them.
- A second strike hit al-Hindi's home in the city's Nasir
district, slightly injuring a dozen people and damaging the offices of
an Islamic Jihad charitable organisation in the same building.
- Elsewhere in Rafah, two Palestinians were injured when
Israeli troops opened fire in the Salah al-Din area, Palestinian medics
told reporters, saying a 45-year-old man was in critical condition.
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