Two Palestinian Tragedies
© June 2006 Asher Intrater
On Friday afternoon, June 9, the Raaliah family of Gaza went to spend time on the beach. Sometime between 4:57 and 5:10 pm a bomb exploded. All of the family was killed (7) except for Hoda, their beautiful pre-teen daughter.
An Arab reporter was in the area and ran to the site with his camera. There he shot blood curdling pictures of Hoda screaming in shock and falling over the corpses of her family members. The explosion was immediately assumed to be from an Israeli artillery attack. The pictures of Hoda were replayed over and over throughout the Arab world through the Al Jazeera television network.
The initial Israeli response was that the explosion did not seem to match any of its artillery attacks. Defense Minister Amir Perets formed a third-party investigation committee, led by retired general Yossi Peled. He also decided to restrain Israeli attacks against targets in Gaza until the investigation would be completed.
Hamas called for full scale reprisal attacks on Israel. In the 4 days following the Raaliah family disaster, over 80 Kasam missiles were fired into Israel, mostly toward the town of Sederot. There the citizens and school children started to demonstrate against Perets (who happens to be a resident of Sederot) for not protecting them.
On Tuesday morning, June 13, Israeli intelligence spotted a Palestinian van with 3 Islamic Jihad workers carrying a "Grad" missile on the way to be launched into Israel. (The Grad is more powerful than the primitive Kasam, and its being fired into Sederot could have caused much damage and loss of life.)
At 11:40 the Israeli air force shot a missile into the van, killing the three terrorists, but not destroying the Grad missile. Sixty seconds later another Israeli missile was shot at the same van. However in those sixty seconds, members of the Mugrabi family, living in the house across from where the van was struck on the highway, ran out to see what had happened. A number of other Palestinian bystanders also surrounded the van. When the second missile hit, 8 of those bystanders were killed.
On the same day, the results came out of the Israeli investigation of the Raaliah family explosion: That incident was 5 minutes after and 300 meters away from any Israeli artillery fire. Evidence of shrapnel from one of the injured Palestinians receiving treatment in an Israeli hospital showed that the metal was not from an Israeli missile.
However, by this time most of the world was convinced that it was Israel's fault. The atmosphere in the Palestinian territories is "hot," accusing Israel of slaughtering their people. (Interestingly, the Grad missile was retrieved intact, even after the second Israeli firing, and transferred by Jihad workers to another site.)
In the meantime, Israel stated its policy:
All this comes in the wake of yet another tragedy: an Israeli commuter train crashed yesterday into a small pick up truck that had stalled out on the railway pass at the Beit Joshua junction near Hadera. The train derailed and 5 were killed and dozens injured.
Thank you for your prayers for this struggling little area of the world. By God's grace in the midst of all these trials, the gospel continues to grow here among the people of Israel.
Pray as well for our Palestinian evangelist friends who are reporting that it is more and more difficult for them to continue with their ministry in the light of the Hamas influence.