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Nine Palestinians Killed in Gaza

October 7, 2002

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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) _ Nine Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded Monday during an Israeli incursion into the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, officials and doctors said, most when an Israeli helicopter fired a missile that exploded in a crowd.

The missile strike came at the end of the four-hour incursion. Residents said people came out into the streets around 4:30 a.m. when they heard the tanks pulling out, but two Israeli helicopters remained overhead, and one of them fired the missile.

Khan Younis governor Hosni Zourab said nine people were killed in the raid, including seven in the missile attack. Doctors said at least 65 people were wounded by the missile blast.

Israeli military sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a limited operation was underway, not a large-scale invasion. The move came a few hours after Palestinians fired a mortar shell at a Jewish settlement in another part of the Gaza Strip, the military said.

Abed Ouda, 29, said he was parking his car when the missile struck. ``I heard a huge explosion,″ he said, ``and people were wounded and bleeding on the ground in front of my car.″

Dr. Mohammed Abu Dalal of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis appealed for more doctors and supplies to help treat the large numbers of casualties.

After midnight, about 40 Israeli tanks, backed by helicopters, entered the Khan Younis and shelled houses on the main street, witnesses said.