GAZA CITY: Israeli troops killed 10 Palestinians, including a toddler and a 13-year-old boy, in raids on the Gaza Strip launched as Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was set to clash with lawmakers over changes he made to a key bill to appoint a power-sharing prime minister.
The deadly new raids came after an army bulldozer crushed to death a US peace activist trying to prevent almost daily house demolitions in Rafah, a town on the Israeli-controlled southern border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
The first raid targeted the Nusseirat refugee camp just south of Gaza City, where the radical Islamic group Hamas enjoys strong support.
Some 30 armoured vehicles with bulldozers and infantry advanced several hundred metres into the camp from the nearby Netzarim Jewish settlement.
The Israeli units backed up by helicopter gunships met with stiff resistance from Palestinian fighters in the camp, Palestinian security officials said.
The slain toddler was identified as Elham El Assar, aged three, who was killed by a bullet wound to the head, medics said.
Two other people, including a member of the radical Islamic Jihad, were crushed to death under the rubble of a house dynamited by the army.
The overnight raid also cost the lives of four other Palestinians, one of them aged 13, while 17 were wounded.
Three of the wounded were listed as very serious after being shot in the head.
Several hours later, three more Palestinian men, two of them in their twenties, were killed when shooting erupted during an Israeli raid into the town of Beit Lahia, on the northern edge of Gaza City.
Palestinian officials said at least two of them were not armed.
The previous day two other Palestinians were shot dead by Israelis in the Gaza Strip and a US pacifist died when she was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer while trying to prevent the destruction of homes.
The Israeli bulldozer killed US citizen Rachel Corrie – the first international peace protester killed in 29 months of violence – while demolishing a building near the Gaza-Egypt border. The army said the driver could not see Corrie because the windows in the bulldozer were very small.
Corrie, the 23-year-old student from Olympia, Washington, was a member of the International Solidarity Movement and was among eight protesters on the Gaza-Egypt border – four American and four British – protesting against the demolition. – AFP/AP