Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Israel-Gaza conflict: Gaza suffers its deadliest day after ‘heinous massacre’ in Shuja’iya

Ferocious violence has resulted in more than 100 deaths in Gaza, with Palestinian accusations that a bloody assault on the town of Shuja’iya by Israeli forces, leaving bodies on the streets and buildings destroyed, was motivated by revenge for the deaths of 13 soldiers.

The Israeli losses were one of the largest in one operation suffered in recent times by the Jewish state.  Al Quds Force, the military wing of Hamas, had claimed that it had lured troops into a minefield. But the Israeli military stated that the deaths came in separate incidents overnight involving improvised explosive devices and a firefight.

The killing in Shuja’iya of Palestinians, including a large number of women and children, was condemned by the Palestinian government led by President Mahmoud Abbas as a “heinous massacre” and a “war crime”.

Mushir al-Nasri, a senior Hamas official, said: “We have been carrying out successful military operations against the Israelis, they take their revenge on defenceless civilians”.

But the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, charged that the town had become a “fortress of terror” that had been used to fire rockets into Israel.

The controversy over the Israeli mission, with the Palestinian death toll going past 425 in nearly two weeks of fighting, continued with the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, caught on a microphone saying: “ It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation. We’ve got to get over there, we ought to go tonight, it’s crazy to be sitting around here.”

Behind the international diplomatic manoeuvres and the accusations and recriminations, the terrible human cost of unfolded of what had befallen Shuja’iya.

Hania Um Aziz had been lying trapped with a broken leg in her home in Baghdad Street for 14 hours as airstrikes and tank shells pounded around the area. “All the time there was smell of blood coming from downstairs,” said the 64-year-old woman after being rescued; the bodies were those of her brother and niece, killed by tank fire. At the same time, the Al-Qassas family was fleeing the neighbourhood, under fire, along with hundreds of others, when a shell burst between them.

Ten-year-old Mahmood was injured by spraying shrapnel, a woman a dozen feet away was cut in half.

But it was not just civilians who were present in Shuja’iya. Hamas fighters in black body armour could be seen taking advantage of a temporary ceasefire –  in order to evacuate injured residents – to slip out of the area, hiding their weapons. Two of them hurried along with a machine-gun under a blanket, looking like a body covered by a shroud was being carried out.

Seen from Gaza City, smoke and flames rise from Gaza's electricity distribution company plant after it was hit by Israeli strikes in the Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip,Tuesday, July 29, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Seen from Gaza City, smoke and flames rise from Gaza's electricity distribution company plant after it was hit by Israeli strikes in the Nusseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip,Tuesday, July 29, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke rises from the offices of the Hamas movement's Al-Aqsa satellite TV station, in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, shortly after was hit and destroyed by an Israeli strike, Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian walks on the rubble of the house of the top Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, hit by a pre-dawn Israeli strike, in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 29, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky of Gaza City on early Tuesday, July 29, 2014. A truce between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza remained elusive as diplomats sought to end the fighting at the start of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke raises in the air following Israeli shelling in Gaza City on early Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian relatives comfort each other in front of the morgue of Shifa hospital following an explosion that killed 10 people, nine of them children at a park at Shati refugee camp, in Gaza city, in the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, July 28, 2014 (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
An Israeli reserve soldier makes a wall with the Star of David from cardboard mortar shell boxes near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky of Gaza City on early Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli forces' flares light up the night sky of Gaza City on early Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli forces flares light up the night sky in the east of Gaza City on Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli soldiers sleep on the top of a tank near the Israel Gaza border, Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
Palestinian relatives cry when mourners carry out the body of Gamal Ielian, 10, who was killed along with 9 other people, all but one of them children, in an explosion at a park at the Shati refugee camp, in the northern Gaza Strip, Monday, July 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Demonstrators show their support during a pro-Israel rally on July 28, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
A pro-Israeli demonstrator faces a group of Pro-Palestine demonstrators who staged a counter-demonstration across the street from a pro-Israel rally on July 28, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
People take part in a rally in support of Israel near the United Nations Headquarters on July 28, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
Used artillery shells litter the ground on the morning of July 28, 2014 near Kafar Azza, Israel. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, July 27 (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A member of the foreign media, left, cries as she embraces her Palestinian news assistant, right, who burst into tears after discovering his family house was destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian doctor treats 3-day-old Shaymaa al-Sheikh Ali at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Palestinians carry the coffin of Christian woman Jalila Ayyad, 70, who was killed by an Israeli strike hit that destroyed her house, during her funeral at a church in Gaza City, Sunday, July 27, 2014.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A female protester against military action in Gaza wears a 'Silence is injustice' sign as she marches through Westminster, central London. Picture date: Saturday July 26, 2014.
Supporters of Israel are reflected in a mirror built on the Old Port during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, July 27, 2014 (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over a building in Gaza City in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli left wing activists light candles with shape of the word "Sorry" in Hebrew and place portraits on the ground of Israelis and Palestinians who have been killed in the conflict, during a demonstration against the Gaza war, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
Supporters of Israel wave flags and shout slogans during a demonstration in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
A Palestinian man walks by buildings heavily damaged by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians walk amid the rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Damage from Israeli strikes leaves a room in the children's ward scattered with debris, at a hospital in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinians inspect the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli strike killing Christian woman Jalila Ayyad, 70, in Gaza City on Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
An Israeli tank fires towards Gaza, near the Israel and Gaza border in the morning of Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
A Palestinian child who was injured in the war in Gaza gives the victory sign as he is prepared to be moved by ambulance from a hospital in north Sinai to Cairo after crossing the Gaza Egypt border Saturday, in el-Arish, 290 kilometers (180 miles) east of Cairo, Egypt, early Sunday, July 27, 2014.(AP Photo/Muhamed Sabry)
A news cameraman films at a live position as in the background smoke rises from an Israeli strike in Gaza City, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Pro-Palestinian protesters run amid tear gas canisters, as clashes erupted at Place de La Republique during a banned demonstration in support of Gaza, in Paris, France, Saturday, July 26, 2014 (AP Photo/Francois Mori )
A Palestinian supporter yells at opposing Israeli supporters as hundreds protest the war between Israel and Hamas members in the Gaza Strip in Toronto on Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)
Israeli soldiers pray near the Israeli Gaza border as the 24 hour ceasefire begins on July 27, 2014 on the Israeli/Gaza border, Israel. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
sraeli soldiers pray near the Israeli Gaza border as the 24 hour ceasefire begins on July 27, 2014 on the Israeli/Gaza border, Israel. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers pray near the Israeli Gaza border as the 24 hour ceasefire begins on July 27, 2014 on the Israeli/Gaza border, Israel. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from Gaza Strip after Israeli shelling moment before the 24 hour ceasefire on July 27, 2014 on the Israeli/Gaza border(Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Israeli strikes in Gaza are seen after a ceasefire failed on July 27, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
An Israeli tank fires artillery shells after a ceasefire failed on July 27, 2014 near Sderot, Israel (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Left wing Israelis take part in a protest against Israel's military operation in the Gaza Strip on July 26, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Protesters take part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Protesters take part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Orthodox Jews show their support for peace in Gaza as they attend a 'Stop the War' demonstration in Parliament Square on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Protesters take part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
In this Thursday, July 24, 2014 photo, Nema Abu al-Foul, 2 , who was injured while playing with others in front of her family's house in the Al-Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City in an Israeli missile strike on July 19, recovers at Shifa hospital. The strike hit a nearby building, breaking her nose and fracturing her skull, her family said. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian man cries after bringing a child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, to the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians inspect the damage of their destroyed houses during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises from a vehicle, destroyed by an Israeli strike, after Palestinian fire fighters put out the fire, in Gaza City, early Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians carry their belongings through rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli strikes, as they visit the area during a 12-hour cease-fire in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers seen working on a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 25, 2014 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Palestinians sit on debris after seeing their homes destroyed in Israel's military operation on Gaza, during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
An Israeli soldier seen carrying tank ammo near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 25, 2014 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers gather by flames created from a Molotov cocktail thrown by Palestinians during clashes in Hawara village near the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
A member of the media holds his arm after being injured while covering Palestinian supporters of Hamas clash with Israeli security forces on July 25, 2014 near Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers seen carrying tank ammo near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 25, 2014 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Palestinians on the rubble of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian children carry drinking water to their homes in the Nuseirat refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, are treated as they lay on the floor at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A woman supporter of Jamaat-e-Islami takes part in a demonstration against the Israeli bombings in the Gaza strip, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
A Palestinian woman reacts after seeing her destroyed house during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian supporters of Hamas take shelter while clashing with Israeli security forces on July 25, 2014 near Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Palestinian supporters of Hamas clash with Israeli security forces on July 25, 2014 near Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Pro Palestinian demonstrators march through central London on July 25, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Pro Palestinian demonstrators march through central London on July 25, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Palestinians clash with Israeli security forces on July 25, 2014 near Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Men attend the burial of Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral on July 25, 2014 near Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Israeli artillery fire near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 25, 2014 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Israeli artillery seen near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 25, 2014 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Israeli tanks seen near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 25, 2014 near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Palestinians carry a body of a man found under the rubble of a destroyed house during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
In this Friday, July 25, 2014 photo, Palestinians chant slogans to support the Palestinians in Gaza as others hold the Turkish flag, while protesting in the West Bank city of Jenin. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
In this Friday, July 25, 2014 photo, a Palestinian man burns tires during clashes with Israeli soldiers, following a protest to support the Palestinians in Gaza, at Al-Jlameh checkpoint near the West Bank city of Jenin. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
In this Friday, July 25, 2014 photo, Palestinians chant slogans to support the Palestinians in Gaza, while protesting in the West Bank city of Jenin. In the West Bank, which had been relatively calm for years, protests raged Friday against Israel's Gaza operation and the rising casualty toll there. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
A member of the media walks past a vehicle, destroyed by an Israeli strike, after Palestinian fire fighters put out the fire, in Gaza City, early Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian medics dig out a body found under the rubbles of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral in the Qalandia refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Amidst the morning fog, smoke from an Israeli strike rises in the air over Gaza City, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Protesters take part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
An Israeli soldier meets with his loved ones during a 12-hour ceasefire just outside the militarised zone near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 26, 2014 near Zikim, Israel. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Protesters take part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
A woman takes part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Protesters take part in a 'Stop the War' demonstration march from the Israeli Embassy to the Houses of Parliament on July 26, 2014 in London, England. The protesters were calling for an end to the violence in Gaza, which has seen the death of over 940, mostly civilian, Palestinians and 38 Israelis since the conflict started on July 8, 2014. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Palestinians and members of the media walk on the rubble of houses, destroyed by Israeli strikes, as they visit the area during a 12-hour cease-fire in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians walk by the rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli strikes, as they return the area during a 12-hour cease-fire in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian mourners carry the bodies of Taib Mohammed Odeh, 22, front, and Khaled Odeh, 21, during their funeral in Hawara near Nablus, the northern West Bank, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
A Palestinian look outside from his destroyed house as he visits the area during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian men climb on Israel's military vehicle that was left behind by the forces in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians carry the body of Bassem Abo Al-Rob, 19, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Kabatyeh near Jenin city on Saturday, July 26, 2014 (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)
Palestinians carry their belongings through rubble of houses destroyed by Israeli strikes, as they visit the area during a 12-hour cease-fire in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 26, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians salvage what little of their belongings they could from their homes during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians try to dig a body out of the rubble of a destroyed house hit by an Israeli strike during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian woman inspects the damage of her destroyed house during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014 (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian woman reacts after seeing her destroyed house during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises from a vehicle, destroyed by an Israeli strike, after Palestinian fire fighters put out the fire, in Gaza City, early Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
An Israeli soldier aims at Palestinian protesters during clashes in Hawara village near the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Palestinian medics carry a body of a man after they found him under the rubble of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
An Israeli soldier aims his weapon at a Palestinian during clashes in Hawara village near the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Palestinian medics search for possible victims under the rubble of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian relatives comfort each other during the funeral of 10 people who were killed in an Israeli strike in the yard of the United Nations school in Beit Hanoun, at the morgue of Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Yasser Qudih)
Palestinian youths weep while sitting by the rubble of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian man inspects the destruction during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian man inspects the damage of his destroyed house during a 12-hour cease-fire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Saturday, July 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cries at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man carries a child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a UN school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cries at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian child, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, cries at the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Blood and and discarded belongings are left behind at a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A displaced Palestinian girl who had lost her relative in an Israeli airstrike at a U.N school cries at Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, Thursday, July 24, 2014. Israeli tank shells hit a compound housing a UN school in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing more than a dozen of people and wounding dozens who were seeking shelter from fierce clashes on the streets outside. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian children, wounded in an Israeli strike on a compound housing a U.N. school in Beit Hanoun, in the northern Gaza Strip, lay on the floor of an emergency room at the Kamal Adwan hospital in Beit Lahiya, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
An Israeli soldier shoots tear gas towards Palestinian protesters against the Israeli military action in Gaza, during a demonstration at Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Palestinian protesters against the Israeli military action in Gaza run from tear gas shot by Israeli soldiers, during a demonstration at Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Smoke and flames from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian runs in an area damaged in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, July 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Demonstrators hold candles in the rain during a memorial vigil of those killed during the continued violence in Gaza, on July 24, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold candles in the rain during a memorial vigil of those killed during the continued violence in Gaza, on July 24, 2014 in Berlin, Germany (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Demonstrators hold candles in the rain during a memorial vigil of those killed during the continued violence in Gaza, on July 24, 2014 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Demonstrators in lower Manhattan protest against Israel's recent military campaign in Gaza on July 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Demonstrators in lower Manhattan protest against Israel's recent military campaign in Gaza on July 24, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Palestinians flee during a two hour temporary ceasefire in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian man walks on the rubble of the building belonging to the Yazjhi family which was destroyed by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A man works in the fields near the Israeli-Gaza border on July 23, 2014 near Kfar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Damages are seen of the building belonging to the Yazjhi family which was destroyed by an Israeli strike in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Pages with the names of the 650 Palestinians who have been killed in Gaza are hung above the entrance to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London, after a protest by Palestine campaigners who blockaded the door to highlight the department's role in granting arms export licenses to Israel. Picture date: Wednesday July 23, 2014. Photo by PA
Smoke pours out of the ground due to an alleged campaign by the Israeli military to fill tunnels originating in Gaza with smoke to discover entrances into Israel on July 23, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers watch smoke pour out of Gaza on July 23, 2014 near Kafar Aza, Israel. As operation "Protective Edge " enters its 16th day, 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed and over 600 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers fire artillery shells into Gaza on July 23, 2014 near Kafar Aza, Israel. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Palestinian Khaled Sharmi, 67, walks past the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian walks inside the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man inspects the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Smoke and fire from the explosion of an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, Gaza Strip
Palestinians inspect the Al Farouk mosque which was destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas thrown by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the Israeli military action in Gaza, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Pro-Palestine demonstrators face off with pro-Israel demonstrators on July 22, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Pro-Palestine demonstrators face off with pro-Israel demonstrators on July 22, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Riyad H. Mansour, Palestine's Ambassador to the United Nations, holds up a picture from the Israeli operation in Gaza during a Security Council meeting at the UN on July 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Yasar Halit Cevik, Representative of Turkey to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the UN on July 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Sacha Sergio Llorenti Soliz, Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at the UN on July 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Smoke and debris from an Israeli strike rise over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinians inspect Al Farouk mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba)
ASHKELON, ISRAEL - JULY 22: The grandfather of Israeli soldier Jordan Bensimon cries over his casket during his funeral on July 22, 2014 in Ashkelon, Israel. Bensimon was 22 and originally from France. Israel has lost 27 soldiers since the beginning of operation "Protective Edge." Gaza has had more than 500 people killed, 75% of whom are civilian, the UN has said. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Palestinian protesters run from tear gas thrown by Israeli soldiers during a demonstration against the Israeli military action in Gaza, near the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Nasser Ishtayeh)
Two babies areplaced between dolls covered with red paint during a demonstration, most of them women and children, against Israel's military offensive in Gaza, Tuesday, July 22, 2014, in Berlin, Germany. Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters demanded a halt to military action in Gaza. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 22: Riyad H. Mansour, Palestine's Ambassador to the United Nations, holds up a picture from the Israeli operation in Gaza during a Security Council meeting at the UN on July 22, 2014 in New York City. The Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip is entering the third week with 27 Israeli's dead and over 500 people killed in Gaza, the vast majority being civilians. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
SDEROT, ISRAEL - JULY 22: Israeli soldiers stand near their tank while smoke due to airstrikes and shelling rises from Gaza on July 22, 2014 near Sderot, Israel. As operation "Protective Edge" goes into it's third week, the death toll continues to mount, including 27 Israeli soldiers and over 500 people in Gaza, the vast majority of whom are civilians. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JULY 22: (ISRAEL OUT) Secretary General of The United Nations Ban Ki- Moon (L) and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after a press conference on July 22, 2014 in Tel Aviv, Israel. As operation 'Protective Edge' enters the third week, death tolls continues to mount, with 27 Israeli soldiers dead and over 500 people killed in Gaza, the vast majority being civilians. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Palestinians pray over the bodies of 17 members of the Abu Jamea family, killed by an Israeli strike at their house, during their funeral at the main mosque in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Ali)
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighbourhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians carry a child from the al-Halaq family, killed Sunday by an Israeli strike at their house in Gaza City, during their funeral, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers mourn during the funeral of Israeli soldier Moshe Malko on July 21, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Photographers and cameramen photograph the bodies of six members of the Gharabli family who were killed in an Israeli strike, at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
The sky and the city are lit by Israeli forces' flares in the northern Gaza Strip, Friday, July 18, 2014.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke rises after an Israeli shelling at the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
A Palestinian places his hand on one of the five national flag-draped bodies of members of the al-Halaq immediate and extended family, killed Sunday by an Israeli strike at their house in Gaza City, during their funeral at a mosque, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians try to comfort Hassan al-Halaq, bottom left, weeping over the body of his wife Souad, 62, during a funeral for five members of the family, including also his daughter-in-law Samar, 29, and his grandsons, Kena, 5, and Sadji, killed Sunday by an Israeli strike at their house in Gaza City, Monday, July 21, 2014 (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians try to comfort Hassan al-Halaq, weeping over the graves of his wife Samar, 29, his mother Souad, 62, and his sons Kenan, 5, and Sadji, killed Sunday by an Israeli strike at their house in Gaza City, during their funeral, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian child walks on debris from a destroyed house, following an overnight Israeli strike in Beit Lahiya, in northern Gaza strip, Saturday, July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians pray at a mosque in front of the national flag-draped bodies of five members of the al-Halaq immediate and extended family, killed Sunday by an Israeli strike at their house in Gaza City, during their funeral at a mosque, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Protesters hold a banner during an anti Israel demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in Nicosia, Cyprus, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
Palestine Protest outside BBC Studios in Belfast. Credit: Kevin Scott
Palestine Protest outside BBC Studios in Belfast. Credit: Kevin Scott
Palestine protest outside BBC Studios in Belfast. Credit: Kevin Scott
Family members and friends of Israeli soldier Moshe Malko mourn and cry during his funeral on July 21, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Family members and friends of Israeli soldier Moshe Malko mourn and cry during his funeral on July 21, 2014 in Jerusalem, Israel. (Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)
Rachel Biton rallies with hundreds of Israeli supporters in Times Square on July 20, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)
Israeli soldiers fire mortars from an armoured personnel carrier near the Israeli-Gaza border during operation "Protective Edge" on July 21, 2014 near Sderot, Israel (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Palestinian hospital workers carry a body of one of the six members of the Gharabli family who were killed in an Israeli strike, at the Shifa hospital, in Gaza City, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A Palestinian girl holds a poster that shows Palestinian kids who were killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes, as she attends a demonstration against the Israeli war in Gaza, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Lebanese and Palestinians hold up placards during a protest against the war in Gaza, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
A Palestinian girl holds placard as she attends a protest against the war in Gaza, in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday July 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
Palestinian medics remove a dead body found under the rubbles of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian woman runs as she flees Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians run for cover following an Israeli strike in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian man mourns over the body of his relative at the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinian medics carry a casualty as they run past a burning building in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians medic inspect the damage in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood that came under fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian medics carry a man injured in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood that came under fire as Israel widened its ground offensive against Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian medics arrive in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Mourners pray over the fresh graves of members of the Abu Jarad family who were killed in an Israeli strike on their family house, following their funerals in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Smoke and flames rise after an Israeli missile strike in Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, Saturday, July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
The lifeless bodies of children lay at the morgue of the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians flee their homes in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Palestinian medics carry a dead body found under the rubble of a home destroyed by an Israeli strike in the Shajaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
A Palestinian medic inspects the destruction as he arrives in Gaza City's Shijaiyah neighborhood, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinians escort a wounded woman in the emergency room of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian carries a wounded boy in the emergency room of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. Hundreds of panicked residents fled a Gaza City neighbourhood which they say has come under heavy tank fire from Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man carries a wounded girl in the emergency room of Shifa hospital in Gaza City, northern Gaza Strip, Sunday, July 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
People take part in a protest march through Dublin city centre to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza and "justice and freedom" for Palestine
Jack Aronson, 4, from Dublin, takes part in a protest march through Dublin city centre to call for an end to Israeli military action in Gaza and "justice and freedom" for Palestine. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 19, 2014.
Israeli Honour Guard waiting for arrivel of the coffin of Sergeant Banaya Rubel during his funeral on July 20, 2014 in Holon, Israel. Sergeant Rubel was killed along with another IDF soldier on the twelfth day of operation 'Protective Edge,' when Hamas militants infiltrated Israel from a tunnel dug from Gaza and engaged Israeli soldiers. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)
Scuffles outside Belfast City Hall on Saturday between loyalists with Israeli flags and people attending a rally in support of the Palestinians in besieged Gaza
Scuffles outside Belfast City Hall on Saturday between loyalists with Israeli flags and people attending a rally in support of the Palestinians in besieged Gaza
Demonstrators march on Whitehall to oppose Israel's actions in Gaza on July 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Police officers stand in red paint which was thrown during a rally outside the Israeli Embassy to oppose Israel's actions in Gaza on July 19, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Relentless barrages from aircraft, armour and artillery made it extremely hazardous to pick up the dead and the injured. Two of those who tried, Fouad Jabr, a doctor, and Khalid Hamid, a paramedic, were killed. On the streets lay the wreckage of four ambulances, left burned and twisted out of shape, after being attacked.

Along with the fighting came the dispossessed, thousands from the east of the tiny enclave joining the 50,000 who had already sought refuge elsewhere.

All the UN shelters, mostly schools, have been full to overflowing for days, but they still, somehow, have to fit in more in the days to come. With the human toll from Shuja’iya mounting, the two sides agreed to a ceasefire requested by the International Committee of the Red Cross for cessation of hostilities for two hours.

It was broken after 48 minutes with sporadic machine-gun fire, for which the Israelis blamed the Palestinians. They responded with airstrikes, but then agreed to extend the period by two more hours.

Shuja’iya had been hammered, with not one building left undamaged in many of the streets. The Independent had met Rafiq al-Naizi, 65, three days ago, half an hour after his house had been hit by a missile.

He had four minutes, after a telephone warning from the Israeli military, to evacuate his household of 15 people and had just managed it.

The damaged house would be repaired, he vowed, he and his family would not leave. We discovered yesterday that the house has been hit again, along with the one next to it. Further down the street, neighbours frantically gathering what belongings they could to get away during the lull in violence  said that some of the Naizis had left to find a shelter, but others had stayed behind.

Some of the attacks were targeted. Among the dead was Osama al-Hayya, the son of Khalil al-Hayya, a Hamas leader, his wife and two children. Craters gouged into a stretch of waste ground appeared to be aimed at tunnels used by militants to launch rockets into Israel.

The Alwan family, however, demanded that the Israeli military show why they attacked their home, killing two little boys.

Three brothers were in the kitchen of their apartment at al-Tofah when it was hit by a tank shell.

Qassem, three, and Imad, six, were killed; Abdullah, 14, survived with leg injuries.

Ambulances could not get to their street – not allowed in by the Israelis, claim the residents – and after waiting for 45 minutes they took the three brothers by car to where Palestinian medics and their vehicles had been stopped.

“Imad had died instantly, Qassem was alive but bleeding heavily. He died during those 45 minutes we were waiting,” said an older brother, Mohammed, 19, at the bedside of Abdullah, in the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

“They had dropped leaflets from the air a few days ago, but most of the families stayed because we were not involved in anything that should make them attack us. We need an answer from them, why they attack civilians. They have done this in the past and they are doing it now.”

Nayaf al-Qassas, watching over his grandson at the hospital, was desperate for peace. “I have other relations, grandchildren, who are still in great danger, still in Shuja’iya. We are surrounded by fear. If no one is killed by the end of a day, we think we are very lucky.”

Further reading

Scores dead in Gaza ground battle 

Gaza action 'must be proportionate'

Israel more brutal than Hitler: Turkish PM

Thousands gather for Gaza protest

What if British had treated Northern Irish like Israel treats Palestine?

Israel launches Gaza ground offensive as four more Palestinian children are killed including a five-month-old baby

Response to Gaza 'lily-livered'

Gaza children killed as they played football on the beach

Israeli government insists it does not target civilians – the day after four children are killed by shelling

Israel actions 'disproportionate'

Gaza: Four Palestinian boys killed in Israeli rocket attack on beach

The deep-lying racism fuelling the Israeli onslaught

Alexei Sayle: Israel is Jimmy Savile of nation states

'Sderot cinema’ image shows Israelis with popcorn and hookahs 'cheering as missiles strike Palestinian targets'

Gaza back-story: A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory

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