Olmert regrets Gaza deaths


Ehud Olmert rued the killing of a Palestinian woman and four of her children during an Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.

“Israel feels deep remorse over this tragic event,” the prime minister told his Cabinet in broadcast remarks Tuesday.

The family members in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun were killed by an explosion Monday as Israeli forces battled Palestinian gunmen.

According to the Israeli military, initial indications were that the blast was caused by munitions that went off accidentally as they were carried by a Palestinian fighter outside the house. But Gaza’s Hamas rulers said the building was hit by an Israeli tank shell or Air Force missile.

“The exact nature of these circumstances is still unclear to us,” Olmert said. “Israel’s armed forces will carry out an investigation and will publish its findings.”

Like Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Olmert also made clear that Hamas is to blame for civilian casualties in Gaza because it operates inside populated areas.

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