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Its all-out war
By Wafa Amr

Ramallah (Reuters) - My three-year-old daughter woke up screaming in terror, covered with shards of broken glass. Our apartment building shook violently on Friday evening as missiles fired from an Israeli warplane whistled past and demolished a Palestinian security compound just across the street from us on the edge of the West Bank city of Ramallah. The deafening impact of the blast caved in the windows of our third-floor apartment, tore doors off their hinges and peeled steel frames away from concrete walls.

As a journalist covering the nearly eight-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, I had grown accustomed to scenes of violence. We had also become used to nightly Israeli shelling around Ramallah, but this was different. It was the first time since the 1967 Middle East war that Israel had unleashed its F-16 fighter-bombers against Palestinian targets.

‘Look mummy, I am covered with glass,’ Laila cried. Relieved that she was unhurt, I snatched a blanket, covered her, and rushed to safety carrying her in my arms, afraid that more strikes would follow. I scrambled for my cellular telephone to report the attack to my office in Jerusalem as my neighbors and I evacuated the building.

Across the street, the building that housed members of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (news - web sites)'s Force 17 security apparatus had been reduced to rubble. One policemen was killed and survivors had to be dug out from beneath piles of debris. At least 14 people were injured. A nine-year-old boy sitting inside a ground-floor apartment of our building said he was lifted into the air and thrown against a door by the force of the blast. I realized Laila and I were lucky to be alive and unharmed.

Earlier that evening, when I first spotted the F-16 flying low over the area, casting a shadow over our building, I thought nothing of it. I had no reason to believe that even with the most sophisticated laser-guided missiles, an Israeli warplane would attack a target in such a heavily populated area. But once the air strike began, it hit like an earthquake. Glass and debris flew everywhere. Telephones lines were cut and electricity was knocked out, leaving us to face a night of darkness in that part of the city. Our apartment was so badly damaged it was uninhabitable. Nearby buildings, including two hotels, were also hard hit. When my husband, also a journalist, returned, we took Laila to stay with friends and returned to the scene.

The Israelis' main target was a building that usually housed about a dozen young Force 17 policemen guarding a checkpoint in Palestinian-ruled Ramallah at the edge of the Israeli-occupied part of the West Bank.

Israel said the strike on Ramallah and similar attacks elsewhere in the West Bank and Gaza were in response to a Palestinian suicide bomber who killed himself and five Israelis in the coastal city of Netanya earlier in the day.

Hundreds of Palestinians who converged on the site watched in horror as rescue workers recovered the severed body parts of the policeman who had been sleeping inside the building. An arm and parts of a skull were found. The area was stained with fresh blood. As darkness descended on the city, thousands of Palestinians took to the street in an angry march denouncing the raids.

Related Readings:
Editorial,; related reports 14-15; rewriting history as Jews want it 18.

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