Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Globe in Gaza: Humanitarian truce confusion endangers group of aid workers

Palestinian medics carry a stretcher through the Shejaia neighbourhood, which was heavily shelled by Israel during fighting, in Gaza City July 20, 2014. At least 50 Palestinians were killed on Sunday by Israeli shelling in the Gaza neighbourhood, where bodies were strewn in the street and thousands fled for shelter to a hospital packed with wounded, witnesses and health officials said. Militants kept up their rocket fire on Israel, with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough toward a ceasefire in sight.

Finbarr O'Reilly/REUTERS

An apparent lapse of Israel Defence Force communications Sunday put a convoy of Red Crescent workers and international journalists at great risk during the Israeli shelling of a Gaza neighbourhood, but did reveal a cluster of armed fighters who had stayed hiding out in the east Gaza neighbourhood of Shejaia.

Originally, the IDF informed the two groups that it had accepted a request from the Red Crescent for a two-hour humanitarian truce to allow medics to evacuate the dead and injured from Shejaia. The truce was to run from 13:30 hours to 15:30 hours, local time.

It was confirmed by telephone to this journalist at 13:30, as well as announced publically. However, shortly after a convoy of ambulances, fire trucks and journalists' cars crossed into the district after 13:40, shells landed 200-400 meters away. The shells hit cinder-block houses in the small valley that runs through the area.

Story continues below advertisement

After some confusion, the IDF informed people that the ceasefire would indeed hold from that point on. The army subsequently posted a statement on Twitter that "Though we agreed to the Red Cross' request for a cease fire in Shuja'iya until 15:30, Hamas has not stopped shooting from Shuja'iya."

The IDF told Agence France Presse that because militants had broken the truce, The Israelis "responded accordingly," suggesting they had fired on militant groups.

Indeed, as journalists arrived at the scene in Shejaia Sunday afternoon, several men with guns were scurrying from the scene. Some bore their weapons openly, slung over their shoulder, but two, disguised as women, were seen walking off with weapons partly concealed under their robes. Another had his weapon wrapped in a blanket and held on his chest as if it were a baby.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct Licensing Options
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to