WATCH: “Shuja’iyah: Land of the Brave” reveals a crisis of humanity

This short video by Palestinian filmmaker Hadeel Assali displaces the horrifying images of the 19-20 July Shujaiya massacre with sweeter ones she collected during a 2013 visit with her family in Gaza. Most of the video footage comes from Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

About her video, Assali told me that after she was sent this recorded plea for help from the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, she created this short film “to show what ‘humanity’ means when we say ‘crimes against humanity.’”

Over Assali’s sentimental and pleasant images we hear the audio from a frantic recording from journalist Samer Zaneed who tells us that residents of Shujaiya reported being abandoned by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the massacre. As Al Akhbar reported on 21 July, “survivors confirmed that the Red Cross ignored their repeated calls before the communication network stopped completely.”

Israeli attacks continued through the morning of the massacre. Meanwhile, journalists also contacted the ICRC but their calls were ignored. Al-Akhbar quotes an unnamed journalist who says that the Red Cross finally responded: “This isn’t our responsibility and the Israeli army prevented us from entering the area because it declared it a military zone.”

The Red Cross responds

On 22 July, Nasser Najjar, a spokesperson of the ICRC in Gaza, responded to Assali’s video in an email seen by The Electronic Intifada. Najjar wrote that the institution was “extremely concerned about the human toll of the hostilities taking place in Gaza, especially about those civilians who are surrounded by conflict and unable to get help.”

Najjar added:

On 20 July we facilitated a humanitarian ceasefire between the IDF [Israeli military] and Hamas which enabled us to evacuate civilians from Shujaiya and yesterday we evacuated the wounded after a hospital was caught in the line of fire in Deir al-Baleh. At times, both ICRC and PRCS [Palestine Red Crescent Society] emergency services have been overwhelmed by thousands of calls for help, especially during intensified hostilities. We’re working at full capacity in complex, dangerous and challenging circumstances and our team in Gaza is doing everything in its power to respond to those in need.

Both Al-Akhbar and my own sources report that inquiries with ICRC office in Jerusalem about their activities in Gaza are not answered by the Jerusalem office.

Crisis of humanitarian institutions

Last month, Ali Abunimah criticized the ICRC when it called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of three Israeli teenagers later found dead in the occupied West Bank, while never making similar demands of Israel which, as of April, held 196 Palestinian children in military custody.

At the time, the ICRC spokesperson in Jerusalem responded that Israel’s detention and torture of Palestinian children are violations of international humanitarian law and that it was “monitoring” Palestinian children in detention. This passivity suggests that the detention of Palestinian children is considered low priority for the organization, even though it acknowledges its illegality.

Now the institution’s personnel in Gaza tell us that they are “working at full capacity.” Yet despite their efforts, they are not able to meet people’s dire needs.

If Palestinian children are not a priority and “full capacity” means human lives are still neglected, then the priorities of the ICRC deserve harsh scrutiny.




There are more Muslims than Jews in the United States now. American Muslims need to raise their voices and their presence. They need to vote and to speak. Politicians are for sale. They listen to the loudest voices. American Muslims need to make their presence known. Protests against the bombardment of Gaza in American cities brings out many, many Americans to stand with Palestinians. There should be marches on the White House and the US Capital on a daily basis. Public opinion matters. Peaceful demonstrations matter.


The IRC are NOT neutral. As in the case here, in Gaza, in Palestine they in the Vietnam war took a clear side for the US against the struggling Vietnamese people. In many cases IRC position is a position of cowardness and taking side for the strongest part in different conflicts in the world


I too, like many others made frantic efforts via telephone , tweets and facebook to contact Red cross re Khuzzi and other areas in past week.
I also noted UN inability to intervene. Re Beit hospital I read John Ferry was finally contacted to negotiate an agreement to withold firing directly at the hospital, but it took several hours and deaths before he could be contacted. Last Week King Abdullah of Saudi granted several million to be distributed for Gaza via Red Crescent. I doubt he is aware of how chaotic the situation is on the ground. I and thousands of others desperately trying to make contact would have been spared hours of work had Red Crescent/ Cross an avtive bulletin board stating exact situation on the ground which would have guided us to contact people who may possibly have been in a position to help open a humanitarian window.

Some bodies still remain unmoved for 3 full weeks in the July sun. RedCross state repeatedly they have been denied access. Why?

This is chaos. Aid agencies are always granted access in war situations- this is a foregone conclusion and if in any doubt needs re-negotiating as a matter of urgency, otherwise they need to be replaced immediately. There are now too many doubts and questions regarding Red Cross activity and lack thereof in Gaza.
Operatives are bound to be in contact with eachother and base operations in crises. Generally, a live update page is maintained and manned 24/7.
Any further words will just be repetition- I am appalled and shocked .


It is further evidence of the stark inhumanity in Israelis and the depravity of the Israeli government that the bodies of the innocent victims of Israel's crimes are left to rot in the sun for three weeks. It is past time for the world to rise up against this horror show that is Israel.


Can you put this film on YouTube or can I get a link to the film that I can share. On this page the film can only be shared though facebook to my friendlist but I want to give a link to our locale red cross


Dear 'Blog',
This my first and last message to you.
This article is is a monument of disinformation. It is an insult to intelligence, to reality and to the ethics of reporting. It is also an insult to all ICRC and PRCS staff who work tirelessly and save lives. The insults we can ignore, but what really makes us sad and angry is that such baseless ranting is counterproductive and undermines our ability to do more for Palestinians victims. To anyone actually interested in the truth about ICRC role, position, and concrete action, here are some hints:
Press conference in Gaza by ICRC head
Field Report by ICRC engineer