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Shuja'iyya is located in Gaza Strip
Location in Gaza Strip
Coordinates: 31°30′02″N 34°28′12″E / 31.50056°N 34.47000°E / 31.50056; 34.47000
Country Palestine
GovernorateGaza Governorate
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)+3

Shuja'iyya (Arabic: الشجاعية), also Shejaiya, Shijaiyeh, Shujayya, Shuja'ia, Shuja'iya, is a neighborhood district of the Palestinian city of Gaza and one of the largest neighborhoods in Gaza with 92,000[1] to 100,000[2] residents. It is located east of Gaza's city center, and its nucleus is situated on a hill located across the main Salah al-Din Road that runs north-south throughout the Gaza Strip. Shuja'iyya contains several ancient structures, mosques and tombs.[3] The Commonwealth War Cemetery is located 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) north of the commercial center of the neighborhood.[4]


Shuja'iyya dates from the Ayyubid period in Gaza, and is named after Shuja' al-Din Uthman al-Kurdi, an Ayyubid emir ("commander") who died fighting against the Crusaders in 1239.[5][6] The district is the first extension of Gaza beyond its Old City,[5] and was a mixed quarter, as opposed to other quarters of Gaza.[7] It was generally a commercial district, but also partially residential. During the Middle Ages, the neighborhood's houses were poorly built and its roads were narrow and unpaved. However, it also boasted many extravagant mosques and Muslim sanctuaries.[8] The 14th-century Ibn Uthman Mosque and al-Zufurdimri Mosque are located in Shuja'iyya,[4] The 15th-century Mahkamah Mosque is also located there.

Being built outside the city's wall, Shuja'iyya had more potential to grow than the al-Daraj, Zaytoun, and al-Tuffah quarters. It eventually grew to become the largest neighborhood in Gaza. It was divided into separate northern and southern parts along ethnic lines. The southern part of the area is called al-Turkuman because of the concentration of Turkoman clans who settled there during the reign of Ayyubid sultan as-Salih Ayyub between 1240-49. The northern part was called al-Judaida or Shuja'iyya al-Akrad. It was populated by Kurds originally from the Mosul area.[8]

The Ottoman census of 1525 shows a relatively equal population of Turks and Kurds, with 89 and 90 households, respectively. The Jews were the single largest ethnic group with 95 households, while the Christians had 82. In 1538, however, the Kurdish and Turkoman populations grew dramatically, especially the former. The Kurds had 278 households while the Turks had 181. In 1549, the Kurdish population grew sharply to 406 houses, while the Turkomans maintained a steady growth to 195 houses. The remnants of Mamluk military units resided in their own separate small community in Shuja'iyya. Their population consisted of 44 households in 1557 which dwindled to 66 persons in 1597.[9]

Modern era[edit]

The Shuja'iya Primary School for Girls was founded in the neighborhood in 1967. In 2011 it had an enrollment of 1,326 students.[2] On October 6, 1987, just prior to the outbreak of the First Intifada, Shuja'iyya was the site of an armed confrontation between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Israeli Army (IDF). The clash resulted in the death of an IDF officer and four Islamic Jihad militants, and the day has been commemorated by the latter as the "Battle of Shuja'iyya." On the first anniversary of the operation, in 1988, the Islamic Jihad called for a general strike against Israel.[10]

The neighborhood is a long-term stronghold of Hamas.[11] The rival Fatah-aligned Hilles clan carried influence in Shuja'iyya until Hamas police claimed that they were hiding suspects of a previous bombing in the city, consequently resulting in clashes between police forces and clan members, resulting in nine deaths and causing several men from the Hilles clan to leave the neighborhood for resettlement in the West Bank.[12][13]

Shuja'iyya had been a frequent target in Israel's 2008-09 airstrikes of the Gaza Strip, which killed several members of Hamas' security forces and destroyed the local police station.[14][15] A coalition of Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces battled intensely with the IDF days after the airstrikes.[11] Hamas claimed to have lost three fighters, including a local commander after an Israeli airstrike and the Fatah-affiliated al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades lost a fighter after ambushing undercover Israeli forces in the district.[16] A women and children's clinic was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike during the hostilities with no casualties reported.[17]

During the 2014 Gaza war, Shuja'iyya was the location of the Battle of Shuja'iyya, the fiercest battle of the war, and was heavily shelled by Israeli forces.[18] Between 65 and 120 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, including at least 17 children, 14 women and four elderly persons,[19][20] as well as 13 Israeli soldiers.[21] Israel stated the district was targeted because 8% of the rocket attacks by Palestinian forces against Israel originated in Shuja'iyya because the area was allegedly a source of tunnels crossing into Israel.[19] After the 2014 war, an Israeli brigade gave soldiers who fought in Shuja'iyya before and after photos, showing the damage. IDF sources said the incident was under investigation.[22] Reconstruction of the quarter is complicated by UN priorities. Funding is allocated according to a ladder of importance, from small to large-scale damage, and many of the cement vouchers for families are sold on the black market.[23]


Gaza's largest market, specializing mostly in clothes and household goods, is in Shuja'iyya; Midan Shuja'iyya ("Shuja'iyya Square") is located at the entrance of the neighborhood from the Old City.[4] Omar Mukhtar Street starts in the district and ends in Rimal.[24] The Municipality of Gaza is implementing a project to enhance Shuja'iyya. It aims to improve the environment and living conditions of its citizens, by widening, restoring, and repairing roads in the district. There is also a development of land located along Salah ad-Din Street, known as Park al-Bastat Shuja'iyya.[25]

Notable people[edit]


  1. ^ Report of the detailed findings of the Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, (United Nations A/HRC/29/CRP.4), 22 June 2015, pp. 70-79 paragraphs 251-299.
  2. ^ a b Shuja'iya Primary School for Girls[permanent dead link]. Gisha–Legal Center for Freedom of Movement. 2011.
  3. ^ Travel in Gaza Archived 2013-08-23 at the Wayback Machine MidEastTravelling.
  4. ^ a b c Jacobs, 1998, p.455.
  5. ^ a b Haldimann and Humbert, 2007, p. 195
  6. ^ According to Al-Maqrizi, cited in Cohen and Lewis, 1978, p. 119
  7. ^ Meyer, 1907, p. 108
  8. ^ a b Sharon, 2009, pp. 30 -31
  9. ^ Cohen and Lewis, 1978, pp. 120-5; cited in Sharon, 2009, pp. 30 -31
  10. ^ Abu 'Amr, 1994, p. 107
  11. ^ a b Harel, Amos. Three IDF soldiers killed, one critically wounded in Gaza blast, Haaretz, 5 September 2009.
  12. ^ Azulai, Yuval.150 Fatah men enter Israel after fleeing Gaza violence Haaretz, 8 March 2008.
  13. ^ Ma'an News agency Four killed in Gaza fighting 18 October 2007
  14. ^ IOF troops kill five Palestinian resistance fighters in Gaza and Nablus Center for Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding.
  15. ^ Strikes continue on Gaza; 292 dead, more than 1,000 injured, Ma'an News Agency, 28 December 2008.
  16. ^ Death toll rises to eight in 24 hours in Israeli strikes on Gaza Strip Archived 2012-03-11 at the Wayback Machine Institute for Middle East Understanding.
  17. ^ Rhodes, Wayne. "Women and children's clinic destroyed in Gaza"[permanent dead link], General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church (2008).
  18. ^ Browning, Noah; Nidal al-Mughrabi (20 July 2014). "Heavy shelling brings death to Gaza district, triggers exodus". Reuters. Archived from the original on 28 July 2014.
  19. ^ a b Reuters, "More than 65 killed in Israeli shelling in Gaza City",, 20 July 2014.
  20. ^ Gaza crisis: Palestinian death toll climbs past 500 as hospital is hit,, 21 July 2014.
  21. ^ "Americans From Texas, California Killed in Gaza",; accessed 18 September 2015.
  22. ^ Oren, Amir. "Pics of flattened Gaza suburb given to soldiers as memento". Haaretz. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  23. ^ Naomi Zeveloff, "Gaza Braces for Next War, But Last One Hasn't Really Ended", The Forward, 8 June 2015.
  24. ^ The city of Gaza Archived 2008-10-11 at the Wayback Machine Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre.
  25. ^ News and activities of municipality Municipality of Gaza.


External links[edit]