Gazans mark sombre start to Eid as 14 killed in Israeli air strike

Prayers held in displacement camps and outside destroyed mosques

Gaza residents hold Eid prayers by ruins of mosque

Gaza residents hold Eid prayers by ruins of mosque
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Palestinians in Gaza marked a sombre start to the Eid Al Fitr holiday on Wednesday, following an Israeli air strike that killed more than a dozen civilians hours after Ramadan drew to a close.

Women and children were the majority of the 14 victims in the strike on Gaza's central Nuseirat refugee camp on Tuesday evening, the official Wafa news agency reported.

Footage posted to social media showed the dead bodies of several children laid out on the floor of a hospital in nearby Deir Al Balah.

Gaza's government media office condemned the "horrific massacre" of the Abu Yousef family and said Israel had killed the joy of Eid.

Israel ”continues to carry out its criminal and military acts … in clear disregard for the feelings of Muslims and the feelings of our Palestinian people,” it said in a statement on Telegram.

"The occupation was able to kill the joy of Eid in the Gaza Strip and deprive children, women and the people of Gaza from celebrating the atmosphere of Eid Al Fitr and surveying its beautiful atmosphere," it added.

As dawn broke, Palestinians gathered in tents and among the rubble of destroyed mosques to hold Eid Al Fitr prayers.

Survivors of the six-month war have told The National there is little festive spirit after the death of more than 33,300 people, most of them women and children.

The death toll continued to rise through Ramadan, after international stakeholders, including the US, failed in their objective of securing a ceasefire before the beginning of the holy month on March 11.

At least 2,370 people were killed and 3,200 were injured during Ramadan, according to collected numbers from the Gaza Ministry of Health. Almost 150 people were killed and 300 injured on March 14 into March 15.

Deaths surged during the final two days of Ramadan, with 275 Palestinians killed between Monday and Wednesday.

On Eid in Gaza city, teams are combing through the gutted remains of Al Shifa Hospital, what was Gaza's largest healthcare complex, in a bid to identify the hundreds of Palestinians estimated to have been killed in a two-week Israeli raid.

Teams from the World Health Organisation arrived at Al Shifa on Monday, where relatives of the victims are also searching for their loved ones.

Motasem Salah, director of the Gaza Emergency Operations Centre, described the scenes at the sprawling medical complex as "unbearable".

"The stench of death is everywhere," he told AFP as machinery dug through the rubble and rescue workers pulled decomposed bodies from the debris.

Mr Salah said Gaza lacked the forensics experts needed to identify the dead or determine what had happened to them, relying instead on delegations from the WHO and the UN's Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

Using wallets and documents that are strewn across the site, they are trying "to identify the decomposed bodies and the body parts that were crushed", he said.

The psychological impact of this "unwatchable" process on the families is unbearable, Mr Salah said in a WHO video from the scene shared with AFP.

"Seeing their children as decomposing corpses and their bodies completely torn apart is a scene that can't be described," he said. "There are no words for it."

Several worried relatives walked among what the WHO said were "numerous shallow graves" outside what was once the emergency department and the administrative and surgical buildings.

"Many bodies were partially buried with their limbs visible," it said in a statement after its first visit to the site on Friday.

Dozens arrested in West Bank

In East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, the start of Eid was also marred by violence, with at least a dozen people, including several children, arrested by Israeli forces.

Eight people were arrested in the West Bank town of Tulkarm, the site of regular Israeli raids in recent months, with another four, including three children, arrested in East Jerusalem, Wafa reported.

Other arrests were made in Hebron, Nablus and Beit Ummar, it added.

Israeli forces also continued with a four-day siege on the town of Jayyus, near Qalqilya, Wafa reported.

Soldiers raided several neighbourhoods and searched homes after tanks stormed the outskirts of Jayyus on Wednesday morning, it said.

Updated: April 11, 2024, 5:39 AM