In what has become the bloodiest period since the attack on Gaza commenced on July 8, dozens of men, women and children were killed overnight as Israeli forces besieged the Gaza City suburb of Shuja'iyya.
According to Palestinian health ministry spokesman Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, upwards of 60 bodies have already been removed from the rubble of homes and apartment buildings in the northern neighborhood, at least 17 of whom are children. More than 200 people are being reported as wounded.
The International Red Cross, which on Sunday negotiated a two-hour "suspension of hostilities" so that medical workers could evacuate the sick and injured, warned that the real death toll is likely higher.
"This sharp increase in the intensity of fighting and the resulting human cost is a matter of grave concern to the ICRC," said a press statement.
The heavy shelling of civilian homes by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is occurring under the pretext of having to destroy a series of underground tunnels, which are often used for importing embargoed essentials to the occupied territory.
In addition to the attack on Shuja'iyya, IDF forces continued their ground incursions in the north of Gaza and in eastern Khan Younis, as well as overnight in the Middle Area, according to an updated report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
Over 63,173 displaced people 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.
According to Haaretz, IDF officers are referring to the significant escalation in fighting overnight as "taking off the gloves," saying that "it's not an operation now, it's a war."
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"One officer expressed concern that the level of casualties in Shuja'iyya could erode the international support Israel has enjoyed until now and create diplomatic pressure to end the operation sooner than expected, at terms which would be less advantageous to Israel," Haaretz reported.
The total death toll since July 8 has reached 368 people, with the Palestinian Ministry of Public Health reporting about 2,295 injured. At least 80 children are amongst the total dead. Israeli forces told Ma'an News Agency that 13 soldiers were killed in the overnight fighting Sunday, bringing the total number of IDF fatalities to 18 since the ground offensive began last Thursday.
With hundreds of civilians crowding the main compound of the Shifa Hospital, the main medical facility and one of the only left open in the strip under the ongoing security threat, the UNRWA warns, "the situation could not be more dire for the collapsed health sector in Gaza."
Al-Shifa’s hospital administrator Dr. Hasan Khala, said that the international community is responsible for “the bloodshed and blood in Gaza’s streets,” adding, “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 the International Middle East Media Center, a Hamas affiliated website on Sunday published updated ceasefire terms that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have reportedly submitted to the U.S. through a Qatari intermediary. According to the report, the proposal includes a requirement that the U.S. must be responsible for ensuring that Israel does not violate the terms of the ceasefire.
Continued coverage of the assault by civilians and journalists on the ground in Gaza as well as analysis and commentary by observers continue to be shared on Twitter: