Palestinians use human shields in attacks

AP/NY Times:

Israeli-Palestinian fighting escalated sharply Saturday, leaving dead 33 Palestinians, including a 13-month-old girl, and clouding peace talks ahead of a visit to the region by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Sixteen civilians were killed, and dozens were wounded, authorities said. In all, 63 people have died since clashes between Israel and extremists affiliated with Gaza's ruling Hamas movement spiked Wednesday. At least 33 were civilians.

An Israeli man was also killed by Palestinian rocket fire that grew more ominous when it struck closer to Israel's heartland. The rocket fire has renewed threats of an Israeli invasion of Gaza.

Hamas said the baby, Malak Karfaneh, died just before midnight Friday in an Israeli strike on Beit Hanoun, a northern town where militants often launch rockets at Israel. But local residents said one of those rockets fell short and landed in the area of the child's house.

...

West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is trying to negotiate a peace accord with Israel, condemned the civilian deaths.

''We tell the world, watch and judge what's happening, and judge who is committing the international terrorism,'' he said.

But Israeli government spokesman David Baker said Israel was ''compelled to continue to take these defensive measures'' to protect more than 200,000 Israelis living under the threat of Palestinian rocket barrages.

Militants ''hide behind their own civilians, using them as human shields, while actively targeting Israeli population centers,'' Baker said. ''They bear the responsibility for the results.''

Israel evacuated its troops and settlers from Gaza in late 2005, but militants proceeded to fire rockets from the abandoned territory. Militants raised the stakes significantly by firing Iranian-made rockets into Ashkelon, a coastal city of 120,000 people.

...

The Palestinian terrorist have to be the most despicable people in the world. They engage in unprovoked attacks on non combatants and hide behind the skirts of women and children to make those attacks. They then pretend to be victims when Israel fights back. The Arab world has for too long ignored the egregious provocations and focused on the Israeli response.

Instead the response to these attacks is described as a massacre or genocide. A favorite phrase in the Arab media is "collective punishment." It never occurs that the term would be more appropriately applied to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli non combatants. The Arab treatment of this conduct is as disgusting as the actions of the Palestinians. It is a reflection of their ethnic hatred of Jews and their religious bigotry.

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