Massacre in Gaza: At least 60 killed in Shuja’iyeh, over 60,000 in UN shelters
July 20, 2014

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.

Medhat Abbas, Director General of the Ministry of Health in Gaza said there are “at least 60 dead in Shuja’iyeh only, and hundreds wounded.” He added, “I don’t have the number now because there is no electricity, no nothing.” Dr. Abbas is directing services his ministry usually handles to the overloaded al-Shifa hospital. “The Israeli aggression against civilians should be stopped,” said al-Shifa’s hospital administrator Dr. Hasan Khalas who confirmed that 112 Palestinians were killed across Gaza last night. “The bloodshed and blood in Gaza’s streets,” he added was the responsibility of the international community, “Because of the international decision to put a siege on Gaza, and this is a result of that. We should not continue to live under siege and just be killed continuous.”

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.

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.