Two killed as Israelis destroy Gaza homes


Israeli troops raided a Palestinian-ruled town in the Gaza Strip overnight, killing two people and destroying a three-story apartment.

Residents of Beit Lahiya said 30 armored vehicles, backed by three helicopter gunships, rumbled into the town late last night and cut it off from Gaza City, four miles away, before leaving about three hours later.

Gunmen crouched in graffiti-covered alleyways, bobbing up to fire at the Israeli forces. Crowds of unarmed men cheered them on from a safe distance.

The body of an elderly Palestinian was found under the rubble of one of the three homes demolished by the Israeli forces, residents said. There had been an army call over loudspeakers for people to vacate their homes.

Israeli military sources said such demolitions are to deter militants, by making their families suffer. But one of the buildings razed was a three-story apartment complex, home to several families.

Hospital officials said a 32-year-old man had died in a neighborhood where fighting had broken out. Twenty other people were wounded.

The incursion on Beit Lahiya came hours after Palestinian witnesses said troops killed a teenager on the nearby border with Israel last evening.