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Girl, 10, shot as she sat in her class, say Palestinians

Gaza security chief uninjured in car bomb attack


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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A 10-year-old girl is critically ill after being hit by a bullet while attending school in Gaza, Palestinian security and hospital sources said.

Palestinian security and hospital sources said Ghadir Mathmar was struck in the chest and stomach as she sat in class at her U.N.-run school in the south Gaza refugee camp of Khan Yunis.

The Israeli military said it fired back at the source of shells fired on its troops. They said it is possible the girl was hit by Israeli fire and the military is investigating.

The incident comes as the Israeli military conducts a criminal investigation into the shooting of a 13-year-old Palestinian girl last Tuesday in Rafah.

In that incident, Iman al-Hams was killed as she ran toward Israeli soldiers, according to the girl's mother.

"She was on her way to school. There was a lot of shooting that morning and when she heard it, she became hysterical. Instead of running back home she ran towards the soldiers," said Hwaydeh Salman al-Hams.

The Israeli military said initially that soldiers believed the girl was carrying a bomb in her school bag and said rules of engagement had been followed.

The matter became a controversy in Israel when it was determined the girl was hit by as many as 20 bullets and two Israeli soldiers said their commander repeatedly shot her.

The soldiers contacted Israel's largest newspaper, Yediot Ahrohnot.

"I was sure she was 12 or maybe younger. I reported it over the two-way radio," one soldier told the newspaper.

He said shots were fired and the girl fell to the ground.

"Then our commander shot her twice. He made sure she was dead and then, I don't know why, but he decided to turn back towards her body and unloaded a round of bullets into it ... this was the most revolting thing I have ever seen as a soldier," the Israeli said.

The commander has accused the soldiers of launching a personal vendetta against him.

Brig. Gen. Shmuel Zakai ordered the criminal investigation into the incident.

In a statement, the military said, "The Israel Defense Forces recognize the gravity of the incident and the allegations raised require a full investigation."

Israeli Knesset member Yossi Sarid called for the IDF to turn over the investigation to an external institute, the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported.

Human rights groups say at least 30 Palestinian children have been killed since Israel launched an incursion into Gaza more than two weeks ago.

These latest incidents are not in northern Gaza where Israeli troops are attempting to establish a 9 km (5.5 mile) buffer zone to shield Israeli cities from Palestinian Qassam rocket attacks.

That incursion was launched after a Qassam rocket killed two Israeli children in the southern Israeli city of Sderot.

Arafat relative survives car bombing

A car bomb exploded near the Palestinian security headquarters in Gaza City Tuesday as a convoy passed carrying the head of Palestinian security in Gaza, Palestinian security sources said.

The Palestinian sources described the explosion as a booby-trapped car bomb that went off as a convoy passed carrying Mussa Arafat, the security official.

Arafat, who is a relative of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was named the Gaza security commander in July, a promotion that sparked controversy among Palestinians.

"This is an assassination attempt, and this is not the first time. A car was blown up by remote control. We have started investigating, and we will find out who was behind it," said Arafat

Arafat's security detail fired shots in the area after the explosion.

No injuries were reported, and the sources said the bombing was an "internal" Palestinian dispute. The Israeli military said it had nothing to do with the blast.

CNN correspondent Guy Raz and producer Shira Medding contributed to this report.


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