Israeli forces heavily shelled the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shuja’iyeh last night killing 63 Palestinians, including at least 17 children, and causing thousands to seek shelter in United Nations facilities. This latest attack brings the total number of Palestinians killed since Operation Protective Edge began on July 8, 2014 to more than 350. Over 63,173 are now living in UNRWA shelters across Gaza, nearly 10,000 more than the number of Palestinians made refugees after Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.
According to Haaretz reporter Anshel Pfeffer an IDF officer described last night’s onslaught on Shuja’iyeh as Israel “taking off the gloves.” There are unconfirmed reports that 13 Israeli soldiers were killed in the fighting. (Update: News of the death of 13 Israeli soldiers has now been made public by the Israeli military.)
“There are thousands of people fleeing, and heavy shelling until a couple of hours ago,” said the Daily Beast‘s Jesse Rosenfeld who had just left the carnage the Gazan city’s most intensely fired upon region. Other journalists confirmed bodies were stacked in piles in Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital, the largest medical facility in the besieged coastal strip, and even bodies stacked in Shuja-iyeh’s war torn streets. Palestinian photojournalist Khaled Hamad, 25, was killed while riding with Red Crescent emergency responders, and medic Fouad Jaber, 28, was killed in the line of duty.
— Activestills (@activestills) July 20, 2014
Warning graphic video of carnage in Shuja-iyeh:
Shuja’iyeh is adjacent to the separation barrier between Israeli and Gaza, just east of Gaza City in the map to the right. Because of its proximity to the buffer zone the Israeli army is able to make incursions into the area with one side protected. The Israeli army claims that Shuja’iyeh is responsible for 8% of the rockets launched from Gaza, and that Gaza City is the largest single rocket launching region in Gaza.
Shuja’iyeh has been a focus of the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. Civilians, specially children carry the brunt of the casualties–even before the ground invasion began. Notably el-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital which is located in this area was fired upon on two occasions, causing the staff and its disabled patients to evacuate under shelling days ago. Ambulances have been unable to reach the wounded due to Israeli fire. The Israeli military warned residents of the area, letting them know a massacre was on the way:
Many days ago, we dropped this Arabic flyer warning residents of Shuja’iya to evacuate. Read the English translation. pic.twitter.com/14REpZqhB3
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 20, 2014
The ethnic cleansing of Shuja’iyeh to another part of prison.Families fleeing after Israeli massacre claimed 60 lives pic.twitter.com/aI0uJW9XfT
— لينة (@LinahAlsaafin) July 20, 2014