Devastating exchanges in Hamas 'hub'

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 24, 2014

The eastern suburb of Gaza City, Shujaiyeh, has become a symbol of the conflict for both the Israeli and Palestinian sides following heavy casualties in fighting there this week. Palestinian sources claim that at least 60 people were killed, though some versions say it was the toll was as high as 100.

The IDF claims that Shujaiyeh was a hub of Hamas operations, the location of many rocket launchers and of entrances to tunnels leading into Israel.

Residents were warned in advance to evacuate before the IDF entered and the Golani Brigade was held back from the initial stage of the ground operation that began on Thursday night and sent into Shujaiyeh 48 hours later..

The brigade in the first three days of its operations in the area lost 15 soldiers, including a deputy battalion commander who was killed when an anti-tank missile hit the building being used as a temporary headquarters.

Other officers were injured in the incident, including brigade commander Colonel Ghassan Alian who was evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheva after sustaining shrapnel wounds to his face on Sunday morning. By Tuesday, he was back in action with his troops.

Seven soldiers were killed when their armoured personnel carrier (APC) was hit and destroyed by an anti-tank missile. One of the soldiers in the APC, Oron Shaul, is still officially described as "missing" due to difficulties in recovering and identifying his remains. Hamas claimed that they were holding him captive.

While there were wide discrepancies between the number of casualties claimed by the Palestinians, IDF sources said that the majority of those killed in Shujaiyeh were Hamas fighters. "I've been to Shujaiyeh before" said a veteran IDF officer, "but I've never seen them like this. Hamas were fighting like Hizbollah, not running away, and they had anti-tank missiles."

Last updated: 5:04pm, July 24 2014