At least 100 people were killed by Israeli bombardments between Saturday and Sunday nights, at least 60 of them in Gaza City's Shujaiyeh neighborhood, sources in Gaza said.
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As of Sunday night, 436 Gazans had been killed since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, and thousands had been wounded by Israeli air strikes and artillery.
The bombardment of Shujaiyeh came on a tough day for the Israel Defense Forces in which 13 soldiers were killed. A complex operation was undertaken to evacuate the bodies; buildings were bombarded while Israeli troops exchanged fire with militants from Hamas and other factions. Hundreds of families who remained in their homes were trapped.
“For God’s sake, leave the families of Shujaiyeh alone,” a Shujaiyeh woman wrote Sunday night to a friend in the Israeli city of Lod whom she met through a women’s organization. “Medical teams can’t reach the houses that are filling up with dead and wounded. The Red Cross isn’t answering the phones.”
Shujaiyeh resident Hamad Mansur told reporters at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital that the artillery fire had grown massive by Sunday morning, trapping many people inside. A Palestinian Health Ministry spokesman, Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, said medical teams were having trouble reaching every necessary location.
According to the ministry, among the dead were relatives of senior Hamas official Khalil al-Haya – his son, daughter-in-law and their two children.
On Sunday afternoon the IDF agreed to a Red Cross request for a two-hour cease-fire in Shujaiyeh, which was extended for another hour, during which many bodies were removed from the area. Sources said hundreds of wounded had been taken to Gaza hospitals, mainly Shifa. Staff said the hospital was having a very difficult time treating all the wounded.
A neighborhood resident told Haaretz that the walking wounded were simply being asked to leave the hospital. Media outlets including Reuters and Palestinian websites published photographs from Shujaiyeh showing the dead lying in the street, including women and children.
Sources in Gaza said most of the wounded arriving at hospitals were women and children. According to an unofficial count, more than 20 children and 14 women have been killed in Shujaiyeh. Among the dead is an Al Jazeera cameraman.
“What’s happening in Shujaiyeh is a war crime and the Israeli criminals must be punished,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas spokesman. “But this will not break us. We will continue to strike at the Israeli forces and prevent them from entering Gaza.”
Thousands of people from Shujaiyeh have streamed out of their homes to the center of Gaza City. Some are living with relatives and friends, but most have headed for schools and other institutions. The UN refugee agency UNRWA has warned that it does not have the tools to deal with the crisis.
Meanwhile, exchanges of fire and massive IDF bombardments are continuing elsewhere in the Gaza Strip. On Sunday night, at least 10 people were reported killed, at least eight in the same compound in Gaza’s Rimal neighborhood. The dead include a 15-year-old girl in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, people took to the streets Sunday in Jenin and Ramallah calling for a cease-fire and international protection for the Palestinian people. At the rallies, in which many Palestinian Authority officials and Fatah activists took part, demonstrators called on PA President Mahmoud Abbas to ask the United Nations and the International Criminal Court to declare events in Gaza a war crime.
The PA and Arab Israelis have called for a day of mourning to be observed Monday, including a strike at both public institutions and private firms. The Higher Arab Monitoring Committee said it would hold a rally in Nazareth in the afternoon.