In Israel, Palestinians Tell of Hamas Butchery

Fatan al-Hinawi, 9, was hospitalized in the children's ward of Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv after being wounded in Gaza. A bullet punctured her side, hit her spine, bowels, a kidney and came out the other side, hitting her arm.

Al-Hinawi is one of five Palestinians, three of them children, who were caught in Hamas-Fatah cross fire and taken to Ichilov. Some are in serious condition.

Shadi, a 23-year-old policemen, is one of them. He was attacked by Hamas gunmen a week ago. "There were five of them. They stood over me and shot my legs from the knee down. One of them put his Kalashnikov to my head. Instinctively I moved the barrel aside and the bullet hit my hand," Shadi told Haaretz yesterday. He arrived at Ichilov with one leg amputated and the other leg crushed.

"I wanted to shoot myself for voting Hamas," another patient said. He came with his brother, who had been shot in the head while evacuating wounded people in his taxi. "We really believed Hamas would change things," he said.

"Hamas has money and weapons for the next 20 years. All the youngsters want to join it, it offers good wages, not what we get from the Palestinian Authority," he said.

"Hamas is no different from Bush. Israel is also to blame. Israel starved us, wouldn't let Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas] display any achievements or force, while Hamas kept getting stronger."

Israel could have stopped Hamas' attacks on Fatah's offices, but it didn't, he added.

Later yesterday, Zecharia Alrai, 39, an officer in Fatah's elite Force 17 commando unit, arrived. He had been abducted by four Hamas gunmen a week ago. They loaded him into a jeep and drove him to an isolated spot, where they shot three bullets into his leg and dumped him.

"That's not Islam. That's evil and hypocrisy. How ironic that Israel is rescuing us from our Muslim 'brothers,'" he said.

Meanwhile, Russian citizen Elvira Mahana crossed the border from Gaza to Israel with her three children. Her husband, a Palestinian she met in Russia, was not with them. Russian and Ukrainian families were being evacuated from Gaza by their embassies and sent home via Jordan. Mahana said she hoped her husband would escape via Rafah to Russia.

"This is no time for love," a Russian embassy official at the Erez crossing said yesterday. Several families had to separate, either because the husband did not have Russian citizenship, as in Mahana's case, or because Israel would not let all the men cross the border, citing security reasons, the Russian officials said.

Meanwhile, medical rescue teams were preparing to evacuate more wounded. At the Erez vehicle crossing, a Palestinian worker took a stretcher from the Israelis and brought it to a patient, who underwent a security check before being taken across the border.

"Many are trying to flee Gaza," a Gaza policeman who had been hospitalized in Ashkelon's Barzilai Hospital told Haaretz yesterday. "I reached Erez, but they weren't letting anyone cross, even those who had permits. The soldiers told us to move back, firing at the ground," he said.

Then Hamas gunmen started firing into the crowd. Israeli soldiers fired back, with hundreds of Palestinians caught in the middle.