More than 40 Palestinian civilians were killed overnight, and more than 400 were wounded, in Al-Sheja'ia neighbourhood in the east of Gaza City. The figures were released by Dr Nasser Al-Tatar, the Director of Al-Shifa Hospital.
Analysts are comparing the massacres to those in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982, in which the Israelis were complicit, and Israel's deadly mortar attacks on the UN post in the Lebanese village of Qana in 1996 and 2006.
Despite many calls for help during the night, firefighters and paramedics were told by the Israeli forces that they would not be allowed to get to the scene of the killings. Thousands of civilians left their homes, although they had nowhere to go. Many sought refuge in the grounds of Al-Shifa, the main hospital in Gaza.
As dawn broke, paramedics and journalists headed to the killing zone, only to be hit by Israeli fire. Journalist Khalid Hamad and a paramedic were killed.
"The words disaster, war crime and genocide do not match the real description of what happened last night in Gaza," said Deputy Health Minister Yousif Abul-Rish.
A spokesman for UNRWA in Gaza, Adnan Abu-Hasnah, said that the agency received more than 29,000 civilians in the schools it is using as temporary shelters. "We ran out of resources," he said.
Gaza now has less than 10 per cent of electricity and water supplies available. At the time of writing, there was heavy, very heavy, artillery shelling in the eastern part of Gaza City. MEMO's correspondent on the ground said that crowds of civilians were running in the streets aimlessly, having nowhere to go to find safety.