Shoppers Killed as Israeli Tank Opens Fire on Marketplace
Published on Saturday, June 22, 2002 in the lndependent/UK
Shoppers Killed as Israeli Tank Opens Fire on Marketplace
by Phil Reeves in Jerusalem
At least three Palestinians – including two children – were killed yesterday when an Israeli tank fired shells into a West Bank market place in what army officials said was an attempt to disperse a crowd of people breaking the curfew.

The killings in Jenin came after Israeli troops invaded the town in response to a surge of Palestinian attacks in which 33 Israelis, mainly civilians, have been killed in three days.

Atrocities and despair have engulfed the region anew, overshadowing the latest frail American initiative even before President George Bush has unveiled it to the outside world.

The bloodshed in Jenin came less than a day after a Palestinian from the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades militia infiltrated a Jewish settlement near Nablus, broke into a house and shot dead five people, including a mother and three of her children inside their home.

As one horror follows another – claiming the lives of seven Israeli and Palestinian children in 15 hours – the focus switched yesterday to Jenin, a Palestinian town that has been repeatedly invaded by the Israeli army, which regards it as a hotbed of "terror" groups.

Palestinian medical officials said three people were killed – a 50-year-old education official, a boy aged six and a seven-year-old girl – when an Israeli tank fired shells and a machine-gun into a crowd that had gathered in Jenin's market to stock up on food. They said the crowd thought the Israeli military curfew on the town had been lifted for two hours.

The Israelis said the Palestinian crowd was not only breaking a curfew, but was advancing towards its forces, who were conducting a house-to-house search for a explosives. But it also said that a preliminary investigation had shown that the tank crew "erred in its action".

Four more Palestinians were killed elsewhere in the occupied territories yesterday.

© 2002 lndependent Digital (UK) Ltd