Gaza medics describe horror
of strike which killed 70

Growing evidence emerged today
of the bloodiest single incident of the Gaza
conflict when around 70 corpses were
found by a Palestinian paramedic near a
bombed-out house.

Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
Telegraph (UK)
January 8, 2009

Mohammed Shaheen, a volunteer with Palestinian Red Crescent, was in the
first convoy of ambulances to reach the site of the blast in Zeitoun since
it was first occupied then shelled by the Israeli army.

His testimony confirmed accounts, first reported in The Telegraph, from
survivors of the extended al Samouni clan who said they feared between 60
and 70 family members had been killed.

“Inside the Samouni house I saw about ten bodies and outside another
sixty,” Mr Shaheen said. “I was not able to count them accurately because
there was not much time and we were looking for wounded people.

“We found fifteen people still alive but injured so we took them in the
ambulances. “I could see an Israeli army bulldozer knocking down houses
nearby but we ran out of time and the Israeli soldiers started shooting at

“We had to leave about eight injured people behind because we could not get
to them and it was no longer safe for us to stay.” Mr Shaheen was in a
convoy led by a jeep from the International Committee of the Red Cross that
made its way down war-damaged tracks past demolished houses to the town
of Zeitoun.

Concerns had been growing that Zeitoun had witnessed massive civilian
after surviving members of the Samouni clan reached Gaza City
three days ago.

They said that after the Israeli army first took the town on Saturday night
soldiers had ordered about 100 members of the clan to gather in a single
house owned by Wael Samouni around dawn on Sunday. At 6.35am on
Monday the house was repeatedly shelled with appalling loss of civilian life.

A handful of survivors, some wounded, others carrying dead or dying infants,
made it on foot to Gaza’s main north-south road before they were given lifts
to hospital. Three small children were buried in Gaza City that afternoon.

According to the survivors between 60 and 70 family members had been
killed by shrapnel and falling masonry. Convoys of ambulances twice headed
to the area to look for wounded but they were driven back by Israeli shooting.

During today’s three hour lull in offensive operations by Israel, the ICRC
led the rescue convoy in although it took a long time for the convoy to make
its way down war-damaged [roads]. According to Mr Shaheen, the death toll
was as high as described by the survivors.
© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2009