Al-Beltaji Street, off the main road in Shujai’iya, is a scene of utter devastation – the site of Israel’s bloodiest assault in almost two weeks of fighting in the coastal strip.
An ambulance sat on shot-out tyres, shrapnel punched through its sides. A charred car lay flattened as if by a giant hand. Smoke rose from one end of the street in a dark billowing curtain.
Fallen trees, tangled electricity cables and drifts of rubble covered the road, smashed, chopped and torn apart by Israeli shells and bombs that slammed into this Gaza City district at a rate of one every five seconds on Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday.
A body was carried out of a ruined house, then a second and a third – seven in total from buildings within a hundred metres of each other during a brief agreed lull in the fighting to evacuate the dead and wounded. A little further along, bodies lay in the street where they had fallen, mostly scorched figures – one still in a yellow dressing gown – others missing limbs.
“Come out it’s safe,” rescue officials shouted as they picked their way along the street.
At least 67 people – some fighters but many civilians – were killed in a night of intense violence in Shujai’iya that has been described by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as a massacre. Hundreds more were injured.
At the far end of the street, a family emerged running, led by a man cradling a child. Slowed at times by the rubble, their faces, stunned by fear, were deaf to questions, focused only on reaching the road leading to the relative safety of Gaza’s City centre.