The United Nations says it has received
reports that about 30 Palestinians were killed when
Israeli forces shelled a
house after they had moved about 110 civilians inside it.
"According to several testimonies, on 4
January Israeli foot soldiers evacuated approximately 110 Palestinians into a
single-residence house in Zeitun, warning them to stay indoors," the UN
report said on Friday.
"Twenty-four hours later,
Israeli forces shelled the home repeatedly, killinngg
The incident took place on
Monday in the Zeitun neighbourhood of Gaza City on Monday, the report said.
The UN Office for the
Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) called it "one of the gravest
incidents since the beginning of operations" by Israeli forces in Gaza on
"Those who survived and were
able walked two kilometres to Salah Ed Din road before being transported to
hospital in civilian vehicles," OCHA said.
"Three children, the
youngest of whom was five months old, died upon arrival at the hospital."
The Israeli military said on
Friday that it had no knowledge of the incident.
The Israeli B'Tselem human rights group quoted Meysa Fawzi al Samouni, a
19-year-old resident, as saying that soldiers forced her and dozens of others to
move into the warehouse-like home of another resident before the attack.
"As far as I know, the dead
and wounded who were under the ruins are still there,"
B'Tselem quoted her
Ibrahim Samouni, a 13-year-old
boy who was wounded in the leg and chest, told the Reuters news agency that he
kept his three younger brothers alive and tried to help the injured adults lying
among the dead after his mother was killed in the incident.
"There was no water, no
bread, nothing to eat," he said.
"Abu Salah died, his wife died. Abu Tawfiq
died, his son died, his wife also died. Mohammed Ibrahim died, and his mother
died. Ishaq died and Nasar died. The wife of Nael Samouni died. Many people
Emergency workers from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and
the Palestinian Red Crescent said they were not able to reach the wounded for
four days because Israel would not allow them safe passage.
They said the children were starving when rescuers finally reached them after
the "unacceptable" delay.
"They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive,
too weak to stand up. In all, there were at least 12 corpses lying on
mattresses," the ICRC said.
Pierre Wettach, the ICRC chief for Israel and the occupied Palestinian
territories, said: "The Israeli military must have been aware of the
situation but did not assist the wounded.
"Neither did they make it
possible for us or the Palestinian Red Crescent to assist the wounded."
More than 780 people, including at least 257 children and 56 women, have been
killed during Israel's aerial bombardment and ground offensive, the UN has said.