Israeli troops pull out of Gaza City, 23 bodies found

January 16th, 2009 - 6:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Gaza City, Jan 16 (DPA) Medical officials found 23 bodies in Gaza City’s southern Tel el-Hawa neighbourhoods Friday, as Israeli ground troops pulled out of the city and withdrew back to its outskirts just before dawn.The troops, after engaging local militants in intense fighting in the Gaza City neighbourhood the previous day, returned to their previous positions in the former Jewish settlement of Netzarim, just outside the city’s southernmost Zaytoun neighbourhood.

Three children were killed in fresh attacks Friday. Two died when their house was bombarded in the border town of Rafah. Another girl was hit by a tank shell fragment in the northern Gaza refugee camp of Jabaliya, Gaza emergency services chief Mo’aweya Hassanein said.

Residents reported heavy damage in Tel el-Hawa the day after the neighbourhood witnessed the worst fighting in the city in Israel’s now 21-day offensive in Gaza.

Some buildings in the relatively new neighbourhood, which contains many high-rises built with the support of international donors, were levelled to the ground, while others had large gaping holes in their outer walls.

The al-Quds hospital was badly damaged, after a fire raged in its administrative building for more than three hours. Some 500 Tel el-Hawa residents who had sought refugee in the hospital earlier on were later evacuated to a nearby shelter of UNWRA, the UN agency caring for Palestinian refugees.

The Palestinian toll Friday stood at at least 1,105 killed and more than 5,130 injured. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, have also been killed since Israel launched the offensive December 27.

Hassanein said at least 50 per cent of them were civilians - women, minors and elderly men.

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