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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
[Clarification of 2 Palestinian Kids Murdered by Palestinians] Summary Of Briefing Held Today By GOC Southern Command

[Clarification of 2 Palestinian Kids Murdered by Palestinians] Summary Of
Briefing Held Today By GOC Southern Command

IDF SPOKESPERSON ANNOUNCEMENT 24 May, 2004

[IMRA: "2 youngsters, at the ages of 12 and 16, were killed by Palestinian
terrorists while being called by the forces to come out of their house. The
two were holding a white flag and were waving it and the terrorists shot
them dead. IDF forces located the terrorists and killed them."

The Amir Oren report that initially revealed the story of two Palestinian
children murders read (with no break between the two paragraphs also in the
original Hebrew):

Inside Track / Rafah is a nightmare

By Amir Oren Haaretz 21 May 2004
www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/430200.html

... When the procession with armed men in its midst set out in the direction
of the forces, (the commander of the Gaza Division, Brigadier General
Shmuel) Zakaii tried to speak with the community leaders in Rafah. The head
of the Liaison and Coordination Administration, Colonel Poli Mordecai,
phoned Nasser Saraj, the head of the Civil Committee in the city. Had the
Liaison and Coordination Administration sufficed, they would not have needed
the tank commander. Saraj, a respected individual, formerly the
director-general of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in the Palestinian
Authority, listened to Colonel Mordecai's pleas, but took no steps to
prevent the disaster.

When men obeyed the calls over the loudspeakers to turn themselves in to the
IDF authorities (and to the intelligence people who wanted to question
them), they were confronted by members of the terror organizations, who
opened fire on them and killed two children. A senior officer in Gaza
reported yesterday that the IDF have in their possession pictures of this
incident, of Palestinians killing their children. He expressed amazement as
to why the army has refrained from publishing them.]
===

The following is a summary of the briefing held today by the GOC
southern command, Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, regarding the operation in Rafah.

On Wednesday, May 12, 2004, an IDF force traveling along the Israeli-
Egyptian border came under heavy gunfire and anti tank missiles launched
from Rafah.

An APC carrying IDF soldiers exploded and as a result five soldiers were
killed.

During the two days after this incident, rescue teams were operating in
the area of the incident in order to locate the bodies' remains and to
bring their friends for appropriate burial. During the whole operation
the forces were under heavy fire from inside the houses. As a result of
these guns fire, which came from 60-70 meters from the border and didn't
stop for a single moment, another two IDF soldiers were killed.

On Monday, May 17, 2004, the IDF began with a comprehensive operation in
the city of Rafah aimed at targeting the terrorists, wanted operatives
and to locate and dismantle weapon smuggling tunnels. The target of the
operation was to secure the neighborhoods along the Philadelphi road and
to make sure that they are clean from terrorists and wanted operatives.

The Rafah area is one of the most crowded, the streets are narrow and
the houses are adjacent to one another. Simultaneously to the operation,
a great stress was given to the humanitarian assistance in the form of
repair of water and electricity infrastructures, a free movement of
ambulances and supply of basic needs for the Palestinian population.

Achievements of the operation:

* The securing of the ability for operational activity along the
border.

* 40 armed terrorists were killed, more then 100 armed terrorists
were injured.

* The locating and dismantling of three weapon smuggling tunnels.

* Comprehensive arrests of wanted Palestinians, among them number
of detainees who are still in investigation.

Clarifying of the casualties among civilians:

As to our knowledge, 14 innocent residents were killed during the
operation:

* 8 were killed while the forces tried to deter a demonstration- a
tank shell ricochet fired at a structure nearby the demonstration hit
them. Among those were killed one armed terrorist.

* A brother and sister- killed apparently on their house's roof.
This incident is still under investigation.

* 2 youngsters, at the ages of 12 and 16, were killed by
Palestinian terrorists while being called by the forces to come out of
their house. The two were holding a white flag and were waving it and
the terrorists shot them dead. IDF forces located the terrorists and
killed them.

* A 13 years old boy and a 3 years old girl were killed in
circumstances which are not yet known, perhaps from Israeli fire but
also perhaps from Palestinian gunmen's fire.

Demolition of houses:

During the operation, damage caused to structures in the city of Rafah.
The investigation of the operating forces shows that approximately 56
structures were destroyed.

In addition, damage caused to roads after bulldozers were use to
detonate explosive devices to ensure safe passage of the APCs. It is
important to note that three Americans were killed as a result of a
roadside bomb which was activated at their vehicle.

* 20 structures were demolished around the uncovered tunnels, this
in order to prevent terrorists from opening fire and activating
explosive devices against the operating forces in the spot for the
uncovering and detonating of the tunnels. Explosive devices were
uncovered by the forces near the shafts of the tunnels which were
uncovered.

* In the neighborhood of Tel- Sultan, IDF forces demolished the
house of the terrorist who murdered Tali Hatuel and her four daughters
at the shooting attack on the Kissufim rout. Additional six structures
were demolished.

* 29 structures were demolished in the other neighborhoods in
which the forces were operating.

The fact that the terrorists where shooting from inside populated houses
created a problem. We demolished houses when they were used by
terrorists to attack the operating forces. We also needed to pass
through narrow streets in armored vehicles which caused additional
damage.

Humanitarian aid during the operation:

It is important to stress that a large effort was made in the
rehabilitation of the water and electricity infrastructures and also in
the assurance of movement of ambulances (a senior representative of the
Red Cross organization in the Gaza Strip noted that there was no delay
of ambulances during the operation).

Our fighting is not directed against the residents of Rafah.
Unfortunately, the residents encounter to a confrontation with the
terrorists, and the terrorists are using the residents' houses for the
terrorist activity, but no soldier or commander under my command hurt a
resident intentionally.

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