Beit Hanoun: Statement by FM Livni, Nov 7, 2006, communicated by the Foreign Minister's Bureau ...
Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni made the following statement at the beginning of her meeting today (November 8) with her Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Stoere:
"Israel left Gaza in order to give the Palestinians an opportunity to control terrorism and develop their own lives. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Israel is faced with constant attack by the Palestinian terror organizations, in the form of relentless firing of Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers. Israel has no desire to harm innocent people, but only to defend its citizens. Unfortunately, in the course of battle, regrettable incidents such as that which occurred this morning do happen. Israeli diplomatic missions throughout the world have been instructed to explain the Israeli position to decision-makers and the media."
IDF Spokesman: Initial reaction to Palestinian claims of civilian casualties in Beit Hanoun, Nov 8, 2006 ...
In an effort to disrupt and prevent the firing of rockets at Israeli population centers, the IDF this morning (Nov 8) carried out preventative artillery fire at the launching sites of the Kassam rockets. The fire was directed at the area from which Kassam rockets were fired yesterday at Ashkelon, in order to disrupt attempts to resume fire.
Following reports of Palestinian civilian casualties, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz ordered a halt to artillery fire in the Gaza Strip pending investigation.
Preliminary findings indicates that the site in question is far removed from the area towards which the artillery fire was directed. Representatives of the IDF Southern Command and the Chief Artillery Officer are in the field investigating the incident.
The IDF activity targets terrorist organizations and infrastructure only, and not Palestinian civilian targets, while the terror organizations deliberately target Israeli civilians.
The IDF expresses regret at any harm to uninvolved civilians, but stresses that the responsibility for this rests with the terror organizations, which use the Palestinian civilian population as a "human shield", carrying out terror attacks and firing Kassam rockets at Israeli population centers, under cover of the Palestinian population.
Again, the above information is preliminary, and the incident is being investigated.