2 Palestinians killed in Erez shooting

Victims were Fatah members waiting to leave Strip; Hamas slams attack.

erez refugees 298 88 (photo credit: AP)
erez refugees 298 88
(photo credit: AP)
At least two Palestinians were killed and over 10 wounded Monday evening in a shooting attack near the Erez border crossing. The IDF said the casualties were all caused by Palestinian attackers, who hurled a hand grenade and fired bursts of automatic weapons fire at a group of dozens of people huddled in a concrete tunnel on the Gaza side of the crossing as they sought to flee the coastal strip. "The casualties are from the Palestinian fire," Maj. Tal Evram, an army spokesman said. "The incident is primarily a Palestinian terror attack on Palestinians." Evram said that in Monday evening's shooting a soldier on the Israeli side fired a few single rounds at an armed Palestinian, but the exchange between the sides was incidental to the main attack on the Palestinian civilians. The precise condition of the victims was unknown. Some received first aid from IDF troops at the crossing, and Magen David Adom ambulances were scrambled to treat others. The ambulances were waiting on the Israeli side of the crossing, but were not permitted to cross and evacuate the wounded, Channel 10 reported. Abu Mujahid, spokesman for the Hamas-linked Popular Resistance Committees, said two of the group's gunmen had fired at IDF soldiers, and the soldiers had fired back at civilians. Since Hamas took over Gaza last week, the Erez crossing has been crowded with Gazans trying to flee. Only a few cases have been permitted to pass through. An eyewitness, who refused to give his name for fear of retribution, said four Palestinian gunmen raced past people at the crossing and opened fire on the soldiers, setting off the exchange. Hamas denounced the attack by the PRC gunmen. "This is rejected. There are civilians at the crossing, and this can cause problems," said Iyad Buzum, a Hamas official in northern Gaza.