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'Revenge' the word on Gazans' lips

By SAUD ABU RAMADAN

GAZA, July 23 (UPI) -- It was a quiet Monday night in Daraj, an overcrowded neighborhood in the old city of Gaza, and Imman Hassan Mattar, 27, was breast-feeding her 2-month-old baby girl Dunia.

Mattar made sure her other three children, Allah, 11, Mohamed, 4, and Ayman, 2, had their dinner and went to bed.

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Later that night, an Israeli airforce F-16 warplane shelled the building they had been living in for six years, killing her and her children.

The building was targeted by the Israelis because the commander of the Islamic Hamas movement's armed wing Izel Den Al Qassam, Sheikh Salah Shehada, and his family had recently rented an apartment there. Shehada, his wife, and three of his children were among the 15 people killed in the airstrike.

The building was leveled in a huge explosion following the shelling. About 150 people were injured.

Thousands of residents from the neighborhood and other parts of the city ran to the site searching for survivors and retrieving remains of those slain.

"Allah Akbar. Allah Akbar. Let (George) Bush come and see what (Ariel) Sharon is doing to our children," cried a resident who was wearing a nightgown and whose hair had turned gray from the dust from the blast.

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Several survivors spent all night looking through the rubble for valuables and personal belongings.

Other streets in the Gaza Strip seemed empty. Residents raised black flags on their roofs. Mosques broadcast verses of the Koran, the Muslim holy book.

Palestinian militants drove all over the city calling for revenge while firing bullets in the air. Thousands of people rushed to Shiffa Hospital to donate blood and join the funerals of the victims.

Palestinian political and military groups promised that the attack "would never pass so easily" and they would get revenge by intensifying suicide bomb attacks against Israel.

"It is a sad day for Gaza," said Omer Othman, a Palestinian taxi driver who works in Gaza and spent all day Tuesday carrying passengers from Gaza neighborhoods to help at the site or to the hospital.

"They (Israelis) are criminals. It is really tragic and hard," said Othman.

Other Gaza residents said they believed Israel had destroyed every chance to live in peace together with the Palestinians. Many said they would now support more suicide bombing attacks against Israel.

"I was not supporting targeting Israeli civilians, even though I always supported fighting military occupation of our lands," said Ahmed Awad, a 25-year-old clothing store owner. "Now I feel like I want to kill every Israeli civilian."

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