Morgues overflow as assault on Gaza intensifies

Ahram Online, Monday 21 Jul 2014

Death toll in Gaza reaches over five hundred as Israeli attacks continue; Washington and UN call for immediate ceasefire

The parents (R and C) and relatives of Palestinian man Zakareya al-Ashqar, who medics said was killed during heavy Israeli shelling, mourn at hospital in Gaza City 21 July 2014. (Photo:Reuters)

The death toll in Gaza rose to 517 on Monday after Israeli forces attacked Al-Aqsa hospital following the bloodiest day for six years in Palestine.

Inside Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s main medical centre, Dr Belal Al-Dabour said the majority of the injured were women and children, and the morgue was over capacity following the massacre on Sunday.

On Sunday, the most deadly day of the offensive, Israeli forces killed at least 100 Palestinians in the massacre of Shujaiya, including 66 people in a single neighbourhood of Gaza City.

On Monday, Israeli forces killed at least ten Palestinians after they crossed the border from Gaza through two tunnels, the military said.

Dr Belal wrote on his Twitter account on Monday that he had visited the morgue and seen several bodies lying on the floor because the refrigerators were full.

"As I left the morgue a new martyr came in," Belal added.

Belal said that since 9.49 am Monday morning Israel had already killed 37 Palestinians.

"Trying to outnumber yesterday's 120 martyrs maybe?" Belal sarcastically asked the Israeli occupation forces in a tweet.

On Monday afternoon, an Israeli air strike on a home in the centre of Gaza City killed eight people, including four children, Palestinian medics said.

The new strike came shortly after an Israeli tank shell hit the third floor of Al-Aqsa hospital in the central Gaza Strip, killing five people and wounding 16.

Belal, who wrote about his experience treating the wounded after Israel’s massacre, said that “more than 100 medicines are missing” and are at “zero stock” right now.

“These medicines include some very vital ones, some which a hospital can’t run without,” he added.

As AFP reported, among those killed on Monday was a family of nine who died in an Israeli strike on a house in the southern city of Rafah, he said.

Seven of the victims were children.

Four more people were killed in various strikes to the south and east of Gaza City, while another died in the northern town of Beit Hanun. There was also one other casualty in Rafah, he said.

Of the 45 bodies recovered on Monday, 11 were from Shejaiya, lifting the death toll from a blistering Sunday attack to 72 dead, he said.

Belal reported an airstrike on the Siyam family house in Rafah on Monday that killed 12 and injured the rest of the family.

"Despite his serious injuries, the father is now looking at his martyred wife, three children, mother, sister and two nephews for the last time," Belal said.

International community's reaction to the massacre

World efforts to end two weeks of deadly violence in and around Gaza stepped up a gear on Monday as the UN chief arrived in Cairo and the top US diplomat was awaited.

While Lebanon's Hezbollah confirmed on Monday that it was backing Palestinian resistance in Gaza, the Shia movement's leader Hassan Nasrallah said.

With the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire, Israeli jets and tanks continued to pound the Gaza Strip throughout the night.

Washington and the United Nations demanded an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza on Monday as Israel pressed a blistering assault on the enclave, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 514.

The UN Human Rights Council said it would hold an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday to discuss Israel's ongoing military offensive in Gaza.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama expressed concern over the loss of life in Gaza in a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, and said Secretary of State John Kerry would travel to Cairo to seek an end to the bloodshed.

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