21 killed in the Israeli assault on Ash-Shuja'iyyah

GAZA (31 August 2006) Ma'an - THE Israeli forces have ended their violent military operations in the Ash-Shuja'iyyah district of Gaza City, the Israeli army has said. The Israeli incursions in the area, between Gaza City and Karni Crossing in the north of the Strip, killed 21 Palestinians and injured more than 30 others.

The Israeli army claimed that its operation in the area frustrated plans for Palestinian groups to carry out military bombing operations against Israeli forces. Israeli army sources claimed that Palestinian groups had dug tunnels in Ash-Shuja'iyyah which may have been intended for operations such as the one that resulted in the capture of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at the end of June.

Israeli sources said that Palestinian groups were planning to tunnel through to the Karni Crossing in the northeast of the Strip.

Israeli sources also revealed that the Israeli intelligence services were involved in the attack on Ash-Shuja'iyyah in addition to the Israeli army.

An Israeli officer told Israeli TV that the tunnel was intended to send "martyrs" through to the Karni Crossing in order to execute a bombing operation there.

Among the dead were Hamdi Al-Banna, 30, a leader in the Al Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, who was killed in confrontations with the invading Israeli troops in Ash-Shuja'iyyah, eastern Gaza City on Wednesday afternoon.

The director general of ambulances and emergencies in the Palestinian Health Ministry, Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, told Ma'an that the medical staff struggled to save Al-Banna's life for one hour, but without success.

A boy of 14, Nidal Abdul-Aziz Ad-Dahdoh, was also killed by an Israeli sniper in the Al-Mansurah neighborhood of Gaza City.

Dr. Hassanein accused the Israeli forces of blocking the path of Palestinian ambulance crews, thereby preventing them from reaching the casualties.

He also accused the Israeli forces of deliberately shooting at ambulances. He said that the Israeli forces also shot at the Al Qubbah clinic in Ash-Shuja'iyyah on Wednesday.

Several Palestinian factions, with a variety of politcal affiliations, resisted the invading Israeli troops by firing projectiles and grenades at Israeli military vehicles and troops.

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