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Israelis, Palestinians Differ on Strike

Associated Press
Wednesday, October 22, 2003; Page A25

JERUSALEM, Oct. 21 -- The Israeli military and Palestinian witnesses offered conflicting versions Tuesday of an airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as thousands of mourners called for revenge for the deaths of seven Palestinians purportedly killed in the attack.

Palestinians said the dead were civilians killed by an Israeli missile fired into a crowd at the Nuseirat refugee camp. Their flag-wrapped bodies were carried on stretchers through the shantytown as the crowd chanted a threat to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon: "Sharon, wait, wait, you have opened Hell's gate."

Explaining the airstrike, one of five Monday that killed a total of 11 people, Israel said helicopters fired two missiles at a car carrying militants of the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, and that two men inside were killed. The army released a video showing two missiles hitting the car about a minute apart. No one appeared to be near the vehicle.

"We will not allow munitions to be launched when there is a massive gathering of people," said a senior air force officer.

The grainy video showed a crowd gathering around the car about two minutes after the second strike, and the video ended 40 seconds later. The Palestinians said a third missile caused the deaths. The military said 10 more minutes were recorded but did not release the footage.

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