Palestinians Trudge Out of Besieged Town


Palestinians complaining of food shortages trudged out of a sealed
Gaza Strip town on Tuesday for the first time since the Israeli army
invaded two weeks ago to stop rocket attacks on southern Israel.

They returned to Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza in the afternoon on donkey
carts laden with flour, potatoes, rice and bread as Israeli forces briefly
let townspeople through.

"The kids need tea, bread, food. We just had a bit of flour and rice left.

There were no vegetables," said Hania Muhammad Muslih. She sat on a donkey
cart loaded with sacks of flour to feed an extended family of more than 20
people. The Israeli army moved into Beit Hanoun last month in response to
rocket fire that killed two Israelis, including a three-year-old boy, in
the town of Sderot. It said it could stay for months.

Fifteen Palestinians -- eight militants and seven civilians including a
nine-year-old boy -- have been killed since the siege began.

Doctors said a pregnant Palestinian woman was shot and seriously wounded on
Saturday when she tried to leave to get food for her family.

Israel had previously conducted periodic raids into Palestinian areas while
maintaining a regular presence mainly in the vicinity of Gaza's 21 Jewish
settlements, which Israel plans to evacuate by late 2005.

 


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