2006 shelling of Beit Hanoun

The 2006 shelling of Beit Hanoun by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) happened on 8 November, when shells hit a row of houses in the Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun,[1] killing at least 19 Palestinians and wounding more than 40.[2][3] The shelling followed the IDF's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in completion of a week-long operation codenamed Operation "Autumn Clouds", which the Israeli government stated had been intended to stop the Qassam rocket attacks on Israel by Palestinian militants.[4] The Israeli government apologized and attributed the incident to a technical malfunction.

Incident

Israel stated that the shelling was in response to a Qassam rocket attack from that location, possibly from a car driven into the area.[5] According to the Israeli military, the artillery had misfired due to a malfunction of the guidance system.[6][7] At least 40 people were wounded. Thirteen of the dead belonged to the same family.[4][8]

Palestinian response

  • Palestinian National Authority – The Palestinian prime minister, Hamas's Ismail Haniya, stated the attack was an "awful massacre". Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas described it as an "...ugly massacre committed by the occupation against our children, our women and elderly...you (the Israelis) do not want peace at all..."[2][9]
  • Palestinians in Beit Hanoun marched in anger the next day and bore for cameras the battered faces of two of the dead children.[10]

Israeli response

  • Israeli Government – Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed regret over the killings and offered humanitarian assistance to the wounded. In his address to the UN Security Council, Israel's deputy UN representative Daniel Carmon reiterated Israel's "deep sorrow and regret" over the accidental killing of innocent civilians, and told the council that terrorism by Hamas was to blame for "the incident in Beit Hanoun". "If Palestinian terror did not continue to assault Israelis, if Qassam rockets stopped sailing out of Gaza into Israel, the incident in Beit Hanoun would never have happened," Carmon said. "A single decision is needed: The Palestinian Authority government must decide to stop using terrorism as a means to achieving its goals."[11] At a business conference in Tel Aviv, Prime Minister Olmert said, "I am very uncomfortable with this event. I'm very distressed." Olmert called it a "mistake" caused by "technical failure," and he urged Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet with him immediately.[10] Israeli organizations, including Peace Now and Gush Shalom and political parties Meretz and Hadash held a protest in Tel Aviv shortly after news of the killings broke.[12] Israeli human rights group B'Tselem described the policy of returning fire to the general area from which a rocket attack is launched a "war crime."[5]