Palestinians pull over 140 bodies from under Gaza rubble
Published Saturday, July 26, 2014
Updated 11:30 pm: An Israeli air strike in southern Gaza hours before a humanitarian truce was declared killed 22 people, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, most of them from a single family, medics said.
Separately, the bodies of over 147 Palestinians were recovered from rubble across Gaza on Saturday, raising the overall Palestinian death toll in the 19-day Israeli terror campaign to over 1,000, the overwhelming majority of them civilians, emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told AFP.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army said four more occupation soldiers had been killed, taking its overall toll to 41.
The strike in southern Khan Younis hit the home of the Najjar family, killing at least 16 relatives, Qudra said.
Another two members of the Abu Shahla family were killed, along with four other people, two of whom have yet to be identified.
The dead included 11 children, among them a one-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy, Qudra said.
Hussein al-Najjar, who survived the attack, was on the verge of tears and appeared so deeply in shock he could barely speak.
"I was on the second floor on the balcony when the strike hit, and it threw me out and away from the building," he told AFP.
"My two sons were killed, and my wife, who was five months pregnant," looking on with one eye, the other covered with a bandage.
His feet were swollen with bruising and his arms and legs also bandaged up.
Hussein's shock left him quiet, but his grandmother raged in anguish at the scene.
"My entire family, my sons, grandchildren, are gone!" she shouted, beginning to weep.
The 85-year-old woman, whose white hair protruded from beneath a white-and-blue headscarf, was surrounded by crying women and children who had come to pay their respects to the family.
The 147 bodies uncovered were from all areas of Gaza.
In northern Gaza, particularly the area of Beit Hanoun, medics recovered at least 32 bodies, Qudra said early on Saturday, along with at least 13 people in the central areas of Bureij, Deir al-Balah and Nusseirat.
Gaza City's Shifa hospital received 29 bodies from the eastern neighborhoods of al-Shujayeh, Zeitoun and Tuffah, and 11 others were taken to hospitals from the southern areas of Khan Younis and Rafah, Qudra added.
He later announced more dead from all over the Strip identified in hospitals in the north and south.
The toll is expected to rise as bodies are pulled from the rubble of homes in some of the worst-hit parts of Gaza, in northern Beit Hanoun, eastern al-Shujayeh and Zeitoun, and southern Khan Younis.
Soon after the ceasefire took effect, Palestinians ventured out into the streets of Gaza, with many returning to areas that had been too dangerous to enter for days.
In Beit Hanoun, Khan Younis and al-Shujayeh and Zeitoun, they found scenes of utter destruction, with homes flattened and bodies lying in the streets and under rubble.
In Beit Hanoun even the hospital was badly damaged by shelling, and AFP correspondents came across the charred body of a paramedic as emergency workers combed the debris for more dead.
Trails of blood on the ground were crossed by Israeli tank tracks, and there were holes where it appeared Israeli forces had been searching for Hamas tunnels.
Palestinian television showed footage of similar scenes in al-Shujayeh, which has been subjected to days of relentless Israeli tank fire.
Stiff bodies lay on the floor of a room in one building, one caked in dried blood, all of them covered in dust.