Thousands were forced to flee their homes in northern Gaza Sunday after a night of fierce bombardment as Israel expanded their ground assault on day 13 of the deadliest violence in the enclave in five years.
There are reports of bodies still lying in the streets after Israeli forces engaged in what has been referred to on Al-Jazeera as “indiscriminate shelling”.
The shelling of last night has continued throughout this morning too and is still reportedly taking place.
Ambulances were unable to reach much of the area along the border because of heavy fire, and emergency services told AFP there were reports of dead and wounded trapped by the bombardment.
The Gaza Health Ministry says that local rescue services have recovered at least 50 Palestinian bodies from Shejaiya. The dead included 17 children and 14 women. Al-Jazeera Arabic is reporting that at least 100 people died in Shejaiya over night.
Here is one of the first videos to emerge of the deadly onslaught showing dead bodies lying in the streets outside their home.
The most deadly assault so far has come in the aftermath of the death of 5 Israelis who were killed in the last few days. The most deadly assault so far has come in the aftermath of the death of 5 Israelis who were killed in the last few days.
Dr Mads Gilbert and others are already referring to this as a “massacre”.
The Gaza Health ministry is reporting that “40 bodies pulled from destroyed homes in Shujaiyya”.
The latest attack brings the death toll to 425 Palestinians killed. 112 of whom were children, 41 women and 25 eldery people. That is in addition to the 3008 who have been injured. The numbers are climbing constantly.
On the Israeli side there have been 18 deaths in total, 13 of whom died today.
Night of Horror
They walked in their thousands, barefoot and in their pyjamas, streaming out of the eastern Gaza district of Shejaiya after a night of non-stop Israeli bombing.
They described hours of terror, as tank shells slammed into homes, with no electricity and no way to escape.
They called ambulances, but there was no way for the vehicles to get in under the constant fire.
So in the end, thousands of desperate residents fled on foot at first light, walking two hours or more into Gaza City.
They left behind the bodies of the dead in the streets of their neighbourhoods – in Nazzaz, in Shaaf and in other parts of this flashpoint area between Gaza City and the Israeli border.
Ahmed fled with his wife and sisters-in-law and their children.
His daughters were barefoot and confused, sleepy as they walked into eastern Gaza City, their parents desperately searching for a safe place to take shelter.
“The shelling started last night, around 9pm and it just got worse and worse,” he said.
“The bombing was all around us – there was no light, no water, we didn’t know what to do.”
“We called the emergency services but they said they couldn’t reach us, so we decided to leave on foot,” he added.
‘Ambulances Can’t Reach Everyone’
At the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, ambulances arrived every five minutes.
But the wounded and the dead were also brought in by car and truck.
One man came in with his legs sticking out of a rolled-down window.
The injuries were mostly from shrapnel, with one boy peppered with wounds, his arms held out to the side, screaming in pain as he was brought into the hospital.
Many people were coated in a layer of dust that turned their faces grey and stuck to their blood on their clothes.
Doctor Said Hassan was standing outside waiting for the arrivals, after evacuating his family from the frontlines in Shejaiya the day before.
“The ambulances can’t reach everyone, the ones who are coming in now were injured hours and hours ago and have either walked or been carried to places where they could be picked up,” he said.
“We’ve been told that there are injured and dead people lying in the streets,” he said.
“The is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” added Hassan, 38, who has worked for Gaza’s health ministry for the last eight years.
Ambulance worker Alaa washed down the inside of his vehicle with disinfectant and a blanket after bringing in another round of wounded.
“We had a pregnant woman who was injured, and on the road we found a man with his daughter so we brought them too,” he said.
“But we can’t get to many areas, there is too much fire, we got trapped at one point.”
Distraught men and women begged the ambulances to go to their neighborhoods to pick up the wounded.
“There are dead people in our house, why won’t you come?” one man screamed at Alaa.
“We’re trying, we can’t get in. We were fired on more than once,” Alaa replied in frustration.
Residents still trapped inside Shejaiya described absolute terror.
“This is one of the worst days of our lives,” said 23-year-old Marah al-Wadia, speaking by phone from the Nazzaz district.
“We’ve been sitting altogether in one room since last night just waiting for the shelling to stop so we can leave,” she added.
“A shell hit our neighbor’s house yesterday and we heard the sound of screaming but we couldn’t come to their rescue and we still don’t know what’s happened to them.”
Another journalist among those killed
Amongst the dead is also a Palestinian journalist. Cameraman Khalid Hamd was killed this morning along with paramedic Foad Jabr. They were targeted by an Israeli artillery shell in Alshijaya neighborhood to the east of Gaza city.
Hamd was documenting the Israeli massacre which claimed the lives of more than 50 dead and 450 wounded.
This is the second journalist killed by Israel in 12 days. Journalist Hamid Shihab was bombed while driving his press car. The car was displaying the press signs when it was targeted.
Hamas said Sunday it had accepted a proposal for a three-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza it said was made by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
“The ICRC contacted (us) and offered to broker a three-hour humanitarian truce to enable ambulances to evacuate the dead and wounded and Hamas accepted it,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
“Hamas agreed on it but the occupation refused it,” he claimed, although Israeli public radio reported that the Israeli government was studying the proposal.
Israel was also reported to have announced that it would adhere to a 2 hour humanitarian truce from 13.30 local time, to enable Palestinian medics to reach the wounded but within the hour there were reports that the Israeli side called it off saying Hamas broke the ceasefire.
Deputy health minister Yussef Abu Rish told reporters at Shifa hospital in Gaza City that: “410 people have been killed since the war started and more than 3,020 people have been injured, most of them civilians.”
Arab League Condemnation
The Arab League on Sunday lashed out at Israel for this latest assault, accusing Israel of “war crimes,” and called for an “immediate stop” to its offensive.
“What Shejaiya is undergoing today in terms of brutal bombing operations are war crimes against Palestinian civilians and a dangerous escalation that could have further consequences,” Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said in a statement.
He called for an “immediate stop of Israeli aggression on Gaza and the necessary protection of Palestinian civilians”.
“Israel is fully responsible for this crime that killed dozens of innocent Palestinian civilians,” Arabi said.
(Middle East Eye – www.middleeasteye.net)