Image: Destroyed Palestinian home
Abid Katib  /  Getty Images
A Palestinian family sits in the rubble of their home, destroyed by Israeli bulldozers, on Tuesday in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip.
updated 11/8/2006 2:25:03 AM ET 2006-11-08T07:25:03

Israeli tank shells landed in a residential neighborhood north of the town of Beit Hanoun early Wednesday, killing at least 18 people in their sleep, Palestinian witnesses and officials said.

According to witnesses, all those killed were women and children. Palestinian hospital officials said dozens of wounded people were being treated at four Gaza hospitals.

Hundreds gathered outside the Kamal Adwan hospital, weeping as bodies arrived. Witnesses said that many of the dead arrived in their sleeping clothes.

Schoolchildren swept out to the street to protest the attack as mosques broadcast angry speeches on the street.

Rahwi Hamad, 75, said he was awakened by the sound of explosions at about 5:15 a.m. and emerged from his home to find bodies and blood in the streets.

“I saw people coming out of the house, bleeding and screaming. I carried a girl covered with blood,” he said. “Inside the houses, we evacuated dismembered bodies ... Everything was disgusting. This is the worst bloody scene I have ever seen.”

Khaled Radi, a health ministry official, said that, of the 18 dead, seven were children and 13 were from the same family. He said at least 40 more were wounded, all civilians.

Palestinian security officials said that five tank shells landed in the area within 15 minutes.

The Palestinian Cabinet announced it would convene for an emergency meeting to discuss the “massacre.”

The Israeli army did not comment.

The shelling came after Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 15 people following a pullout from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun at the end of a bloody weeklong sweep.

The shelling came after Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 15 people following a pullout from the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun at the end of a bloody weeklong sweep.

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