Massacre in Nuseirat: No warning before Israeli air, land and sea attack on crowded marketplace

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The massacre in the Nuseirat refugee camp on Saturday, June 8 left hundreds dead and wounded. Many of the victims had survived previous Israeli massacres and many had lived through what has become a shared experience for Palestinians in Gaza – repeated displacements, multiple injuries, and constant hunger.

As in Israel's other massacres, children, women and the elderly made up a large number of the victims.

Mahmoud Sami Shahtout and his son Odai survived two previous Israeli massacres — one in the Bureij camp, and another in the Nuseirat camp, but both were killed in Saturday's massacre in the camp's marketplace.

Many other members of the Shahtout family were also killed in the house they were staying in with around 50 other displaced people, close to the "Hyper Mall" building on the border of the camp's main market.

"Israel's massacre in Nuseirat camp, which took place in the space of less than an hour, at around midday, left 274 dead and around 700 wounded"

Ahmed, a cousin of Mahmoud's, says to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition: "They completely destroyed the houses in the area without any warning. There was no indication of any danger in the area, in which thousands of the displaced were present.

"We are all dumbstruck at the liberation of the four Israeli hostages, for whom dozens were slaughtered.  They talk about humanity while the corpses of those killed fill the streets, and it’s impossible to transport the wounded to the hospitals, and dozens of homes were destroyed around the area," Ahmed added. 

"My cousin survived two massacres and hoped to stay alive to care for his children. He was searching for a safe place to shelter in and was trying to keep his children next to him. He and his wife shared all the work of looking after them and preparing their food. In his last moments, he was looking for food. When I got to the place where he was killed, I was shocked at the extent of the devastation and the number of dead."

Israel's massacre in Nuseirat camp, which took place in the space of less than an hour, at around midday, left 274 dead and around 700 wounded.

Hundreds were taken to the Al-Awda Hospital close by and others to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir Al-Balah. Many others are still missing and the search for them is ongoing.

As for the wounded, some of the injuries are so severe medical staff in the hospitals say they need urgent transferral outside Gaza for treatment – but this is impossible in light of the continued closure of the Rafah crossing.

Some of those killed in Nuseirat camp had suffered injuries earlier on in the current Israeli onslaught and were in Nuseirat where for some, treatment was more readily available than in some places due to the local hospital and a few health clinics.

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Ahmed Abu Shukri had been suffering intense pain in the days leading up to his death as a result of injuries incurred during Israel's current assault over the past several months. He was first injured in November in Khan Younis, with moderate injuries to his leg, and had travelled south to Rafah. He had then suffered a head injury in Rafah in March and had to flee a second time – back to Khan Younis, where he and his family stayed in a tent.

He, his wife, and his son had headed for Nuseirat camp because he couldn’t bear the high temperature inside the tent, due to his injuries, which were aggravated by the heat. He also thought being close to medical clinics was a good idea – so he chose Nuseirat camp, which has a UNRWA surgery and the Al-Awda Hospital.

"Bodies and body parts of dozens, including many children — who were playing outside when the attack was launched — were left scattered in the streets"

His friend Hamza Abu Owaiti said Abu Shukri "was in a lot of pain […] due to the lack of appropriate healthcare provision, and was always looking for painkillers".

In his final days he couldn't sleep due to the pain which got worse with the rising temperature, which had led to his wounds getting infected, adds Abu Owaiti.

"He believed the centre of the camp was so crowded with the displaced — that it would be safe from being bombed, and even if something bad did happen to him, the people around would assist him and take him to a hospital or clinic, but he died a martyr in an ugly crime after a lot of torture."

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Abu Owaiti says in his final days his friend would talk about not wanting his son forced to live the life of a refugee when he grew up. Ahmed's wife and baby son survived "by a miracle," he says, though his wife was injured.

Israel's intense and indiscriminate air and artillery bombardment was concentrated on the area of Nuseirat camp's main market. It began with no warning and continued after the hostages had been safely spirited away, to give cover to the withdrawal of the Israeli forces.

Bodies and body parts of dozens, including many children — who were playing outside when the attack was launched — were left scattered in the streets.

The massacre in Nuseirat is yet another new crisis for thousands of the displaced in Gaza, and the large number of injured in itself carries severe repercussions, both for the casualties and also because the two hospitals are incapable of absorbing the large numbers.

Al-Awda is a small hospital more akin to a medical centre, and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital is operating with shortages of both medical supplies and the fuel needed to power its electricity generators. Staff shortages also left the hospital overwhelmed with the wounded and sick, many of whom couldn't be tended to.

Ahmad Labbad originally fled from Beit Lahia town and has since been displaced "not less than" ten times. He was also killed in the massacre in Nuseirat camp. His brother Abdullatif Labbad the family had survived several massacres, and had gone from shelter to shelter. They had come to Nuseirat camp because friends who had houses there had said they could stay with them.   

"I was outside the area when the massacre happened, and I saw Israeli armoured vehicles coming from Bureij camp, east of Nuseirat camp, which indicates that the occupation [Israel] had prior intention to commit the massacre."

He explains this is because Israel had been attacking Bureij camp over the past week, which he says was an attempt to "to empty it so its military vehicles could more easily pass through [the camp] in the direction of Nuseirat."

"It was the most horrific massacre that I have seen, out of many massacres by the occupation that I have witnessed during this aggression"

He says his brother Ahmed had been injured in February in Khan Younis when he survived an Israeli massacre in the west of the camp.

"He had head surgery in Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital and he by a miracle survived the operation, though his face was disfigured," says Abdullatif, "and he was displaced with us several times, all the way to the Nuseirat camp."

He says his brother, whose body was dismembered when it was found, "was martyred while dreaming of travelling for treatment abroad."

He adds that he also saw "several men who had been shot in the head and killed directly when the Israeli occupation forces entered, their bodies were lying on the ground. One of them had been cooking pasta in a small pot in the doorway of the house.

"It was the most horrific massacre that I have seen, out of many massacres by the occupation that I have witnessed during this aggression."

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition. To read the original article click here.

Translated by Rose Chacko   

This article is taken from our Arabic sister publication, Al-Araby Al Jadeed and mirrors the source's original editorial guidelines and reporting policies. Any requests for correction or comment will be forwarded to the original authors and editors.

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