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Israel continues shelling Gaza through four-hour ceasefire Sunday

July 20, 2014 4:11 P.M. (Updated: July 30, 2014 4:24 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces extended twice a temporary ceasefire brokered by the Red Cross on Sunday after they broke it multiple times over the course of four hours.

The ceasefire began at 1:30 p.m. and lasted until 5:30 p.m. to allow the evacuation of Palestinians from Shujaiyya neighborhood, where at least 66 Palestinians were killed and 400 injured in an Israeli assault that Gaza medical authorities called a "massacre" earlier in the day.

Israel, however, resumed military attacks on Shujaiyya shortly after the ceasefire was implemented, saying they were provoked by Hamas violations.

Israeli forces said in a statement released just after 4 p.m. that Palestinian militants had opened fire near al-Wafa Hospital, and that Israeli forces had responded to other attacks earlier in the day.

A Ma'an TV reporter who was broadcasting live from Shujaiyya confirmed that Israeli shelling forced Palestinian ambulances and other rescue teams to leave the area quickly immediately after the ceasefire went into effect.

Reporters including a Ma'an reporter on the scene also had to flee the area as Israeli shells started to land not away from where they were.

Over the course of the ceasefire, scores of medics, journalists, and civil defense crews entered the neighborhood to see the damage and look for survivors.

Most of the casualties from the Israeli attack earlier in the day were in the center of the neighborhood, where hundreds of buildings were damaged by shells and shrapnel and some had caught on fire.

Hundreds of Gazans also returned to the neighborhood to evacuate relatives who could not leave due to their age, disability, or due to heavy fire.

Elderly local resident Mohammad al-Areer showed a Ma'an reporter on the scene the damage to his house as he tearfully said, "I've lost everything. But thank God that my family survived death."

One medic said that he and his crew had managed to remove 10 dead bodies, including women and children.

He criticized the short ceasefire, saying that two hours was not enough to do anything in this rubble.

'I haven't slept in two days'

A neighborhood resident who returned to check his house, Ibrahim Fayed al-Zayim, told Ma'an, "We woke up as the ceiling of the house fell on us. We fled on foot away from the sound of barbaric shelling not knowing where to go."

Al-Zayim added that "the intensity and savageness of the shelling forced us to leave with whatever clothes we had on, with women wearing prayer clothes. Later good people gave us clothes to change."

Al-Zayim's son Mohammad told Ma'an: "I'm very scared. I left home without my shoes. I haven't slept in two days, as there has been a lot of shelling."

A resident of eastern Shujaiyya AbdulRahman Jalas said that this is the third time in the third war in a row that his family has been forced to leave their homes because they live in an exposed border area.

Jalas added: "The intensity of shelling, and the fires that broke out in houses made us leave our houses unconsciously, without realizing. The whole area was evacuated fearing for the women and children."

Jalas called on human rights organizations to interfere to end the bloodshed in Gaza.

At least 95 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Sunday, bringing the total from the 13-day assault to at least 420, with more than 3,500 injured in continuous bombardment from land, sea, and air.

The death toll has risen sharply since the beginning of a ground invasion late Thursday, with nearly 200 dead.

Gaza watchdogs have claimed that at least 80 percent of the total deaths have been Palestinian civilians.
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