Palestinian Boy Killed as Rockets Stray

From Associated Press

Palestinians fired rockets Tuesday at thousands of Israeli settlers protesting the upcoming Gaza Strip withdrawal, but missed, killing a 3-year-old Palestinian boy and wounding nine other Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said militants fired three rockets at the demonstration in the Israeli town of Sderot. Two fell in Palestinian areas, and the third fell in an open field near Sderot.

Among the wounded were five children, ages 4 to 11. Four were children of Hisham Abdel Razek, a senior official in the ruling Fatah party and a former Palestinian Cabinet minister. Abdel Razek’s wife was also injured.

The dead boy was identified as Yasser Adnan Ashkar, who was killed when one of the stray rockets hit his family’s home in Beit Hanoun, northeast of Gaza City.


His 11-year-old brother was in critical condition.

Abdel Razek’s family was visiting at the time, witnesses said.

Militant attacks against Israelis had dropped off after a February truce between Israel and the Palestinians.

In recent weeks, however, as the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip approached, militants stepped up attacks to try to portray the Israeli pullout as a military victory for the Palestinians.

Although the Israelis gathered in Sderot had pledged that their protest would be peaceful, settler leaders said they planned to defy a military order and march to Gaza’s settlements today. Police estimated 10,000 people were at the rally.

More than 15,000 police and soldiers took up positions in southern Israel to prevent the marchers from reaching Gaza, which has been declared a closed military zone.

The march would be the settlers’ second effort in two weeks to breach the barricades preventing them from getting into the Gush Katif settlement block.