GAZA CITY (Ma’an): Minutes before a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire went into effect in Gaza on Saturday morning, an Israeli airstrike left at least 20 members of a Palestinian family dead in Khan Younis refugee camp.
The al-Najjar family had fled their homes in Khuzaa, just east of Khan Younis, earlier in the day after Israeli artillery shelling there killed dozens, and they were hoping to find shelter somewhere further from the border.
Their refuge in Khan Younis, however, turned out to be anything but, as missiles fired from Israeli warplanes just before 8 a.m. completely leveled the four-story building they were sleeping in.
The airstrike killed eleven children, four women, and five men from the family, according to Palestinian medical sources.
Spokesman for the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra named some of the children killed in the strike as Khalil al-Najjar, Jana al-Najjar, Samir al-Najjar, Ikhlas al-Najjar, Husam al-Najjar, Aminah al-Najjar and Eiman al-Ruqab.
The killing of the al-Najjar family brought the death toll in Gaza since the beginning of hostilities 18 days ago to 940, with 35 killed on Saturday morning alone, according to al-Qidra.
The toll includes at least 40 bodies recovered from the rubble since the ceasefire began on Saturday morning and medical authorities were able to access areas that had been off-limits due to shelling.
More than 5,700 Palestinians have been injured during the same period, while Israeli attacks on solidarity protests in the West Bank have left 11 dead in the last four days, including nine in a twenty-four period ending early Saturday.
The deaths have led to an international outcry and pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire, but late Friday the Israeli cabinet rejected the idea hoping to secure a truce that would allow it to continue operations inside Gaza.
Hamas, meanwhile, has insisted that any ceasefire include the lifting of the eight-year Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has crippled the economy and led to frequent shortages of basic goods.
As the ceasefire came into effect at 8 a.m. Saturday, rescue teams said they pulled six dead bodies from rubble in Shujaiyya and a central Gaza City district.
Palestinian medical sources said that Israeli attacks on Gaza continued up until two minutes before the ceasefire went into effect. According to the sources, a 87-year-old Palestinian man Salim Abu Toum was killed at 7:58 a.m. by Israeli shelling east of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
Earlier on Saturday morning, Ashraf al-Qidra announced the death of Abdullah Ayish Irmeilat in al-Zawayda neighborhood in the central Gaza Strip as well as 53-year-old Ismail Abdul-Qadir al-Kihk and grandson of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yasin 15-year-old Husam Abdul-Ghani Yasin in Gaza City.
The spokesman also confirmed that dead body of Fadil Atawnah was taken to Shifa Hospital completely burnt after Israeli warplanes targeted him while he was walking home in Shuhada Street in Gaza City.
Furthermore, Muhammad Hosni al-Saqqa, 26, and Islam Ibrahim al-Naji, 19 were killed by an Israeli airstrike on Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City. Another man was seriously injured in the attack.
Shortly after midnight, a Palestinian paramedic Muhammad Matar al-Abadlah, 32, was killed while he was helping victims in eastern Khan Younis district.