Israeli artillery and tank shells fired into Gaza on Thursday evening forced many families to flee their homes.
Gaza City – At least 10 member of a Palestinian family – two women and eight children – have been killed by an Israeli air raid on their home in the Shati refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, following the fifth night of relentless bombardment of the besieged enclave.
In the early hours of Saturday, rescue workers were digging through the rubble of the Abu Hatab family home where more people are believed to be buried.
At least 15 people were also wounded in the air raid.
Mohammed al-Hadidi told Al Jazeera his wife and four sons – Suheib, 14, Yahya, 11, Abdelrahman 8, and Wisam 6 – were all killed. They were visiting his wife’s brother to celebrate Eid when the strike occured.
Another woman and her four children were also killed.
Al-Hadidi said his infant son Omar was his only child to survive the attack.
“Thank God I still have Omar,” he said.
Almeqdad Jameel, a resident of Shati refugee camp, told Al Jazeera that at least five missiles were fired from Israeli fighter jets on the house.
“A wall of fire filled the street, and shrapnel and glass flew everywhere,” he said. “The sound was deafening, and terrified everyone.”
Nabil Abu Al Reesh, a doctor treating survivors at al-Shifa Hospital, said responders are “still trying to recover more bodies and figure out who is who”.
“This is truly a massacre that cannot be described,” he told Al Jazeera.
A boy who was wounded in the attack told Al Jazeera from the hospital that “the missiles hit and the windows got shattered.”
“It hit our head. We got wounded,” he said. “We started running barefoot and my sister left all our belongings behind.”
Funerals for the family were held early Saturday.
According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Shati is third largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight refugee camps and one of the most crowded. It is home to more than 85,000 refugees, who all reside in an area of just 0.52 square kilometres.
Tamara Alrifai, director of strategic communications and spokeswoman at UNRWA, said the agency for Palestinian refugees was “extremely shocked and devastated” at the news of the bombardment of the Shati refugee camp.
“We are extremely distressed about that development, just like we are distressed about the entire situation in Gaza and actually the entire situation of the occupied Palestinian territory,” she told Al Jazeera.
“What’s happening in Gaza cannot be disassociated with what’s happening in the West Bank, the protests and the indiscriminate use of force by the Israeli security forces that were the trigger for the events in Gaza and for what is now a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”
Israel has said its forces are not not targeting civilians, but that fighters of Hamas, the group governing the Gaza Strip, have been hiding among them. But Alrifai rejected that Hamas fighters have been sheltering in UN refugee camps and facilities such as Shati camp.
“This is total disinformation, that Hamas [is] hiding in UN camps and that being the reason for striking either extremely densely populated refugee camps or causing excessive damage to the UNRWA headquarters, like what happened two days ago,” Alrifai said.
Other Gaza sites hit by Israeli missiles overnight included a bank and the interior ministry. Another air raid also reportedly hit a house in Khan Yunis.
Hamas responded to the latest attack on Shati refugee camp by firing a barrage of rockets towards the southern Israeli towns of Askhelon and Ashdod. No casualties were reported.
The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 139 Palestinians, including 40 children, and wounded more than 920 since Monday when, following days of protests against the forced expulsion of Palestinian families from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah and subsequent Israeli crackdowns and raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Hamas began firing rockets at Israel.
The rockets, many of which have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system, have killed at least eight people in Israel, including one child.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces have killed at least 13 Palestinians protesting against continued Israeli occupation and the ongoing bombardment of Gaza, while violence between Palestinian citizens of Israel and Israeli Jews has persisted amid the escalation.
Al Jazeera’s Linah Alsaafin contributed to this report