Thousands at funeral of family killed in air strike

 

Several thousands mourners attended the funeral yesterday of nine members of a Gazan family, including a mother and her four children, who were killed in an Israeli missile attack on their home in the enclave.

The Dula family’s home was hit on Sunday afternoon in the deadliest single attack by Israel since its offensive began last week. The father of the family was at a local shop with his young son when the house was attacked, according to local reports, and returned to find the building collapsed and family members, representing four generations, dead or trapped under the rubble. Large crowds turned out for the funeral in Gaza City, with the bodies draped in Palestinian flags and surviving family members carrying the dead children in their arms.

The Israeli military said yesterday it could not yet provide an explanation about the incident and that an investigation was under way.

Media headquarters hit again

On the sixth day of the conflict, the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza reached 100 as Israel continued to fire missiles at sites across the narrow coastal strip. The latest targets included a tower block housing international media, which was hit for the second consecutive day. One person, whom Israel identified as an Islamic Jihad member, was killed in the attack.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, 850 people have been wounded in Gaza since the hostilities began on Wednesday. They included 260 children and 140 women. Israel puts its death toll since Wednesday at three civilians – two men and a woman killed by a rocket fired from Gaza. Police said more than 60 people have been wounded.

Dr Aed Yaghi, director of the Medical Relief Society in the Gaza Strip, said Gaza’s health workers had been able to respond to all the injured but that conditions were very difficult. “There is a shortage of some medication and disposables – that’s a chronic problem – but we hope it will be okay in the next two days,” he said by telephone.

Dr Yaghi said residents were constantly worried about their safety, but that many were relieved by reports that Hamas and Israel were negotiating in Egypt.

Explosions rang out and drones buzzed overhead on both sides of the tense Gaza-Israel border yesterday, with Israel bombing dozens of targets and militants in Gaza firing some 45 rockets at southern Israel. One damaged a school in the city of Ashkelon,which was closed at the time.

In the Israeli border town of Sderot, buildings shook and residents ran for cover as Israel’s missile defence system shot down a number of incoming rockets from Gaza. Schools in the town were closed, while only food shops and businesses that had bomb shelters remained open. On the outskirts, Israeli tanks and personnel carriers could be seen massing near the border for a possible ground invasion of the strip.

Ilya Peretz, a 63-year-old shopkeeper, said Israel had no choice but to attack Hamas in retaliation for “12 years of rockets”, but he was against any land incursion because the risk to civilians was too high.

“In war, both sides lose. We want peace, we want quiet. They also want peace over there.” In Ashkelon, one of the closest Israeli cities to the border, air raid sirens periodically broke the silence on virtually deserted streets.

Building hit

In a playground on Hadistadrut Street, in a working-class part of town where a rocket hit an apartment building on Sunday morning, ambulance driver Eitan Lasri (35) and his wife Marjana pushed their three-year-old daughter Elina on a swing as helicopters flew overhead.

Did he think Israel should invade? “No, I really hope they won’t,” Lasri replied. “I was in Lebanon [as a soldier] in 2006. There it was different – it was soldiers against soldiers. Here there are many civilians . . . I really want the children of Gaza to sleep well too.”

His daughter spent much of the last five days in their shelter at home, Lasri said. “At first she was very scared by the rockets, but now she calls them birds.”