Live updates on Israel-Hamas war: As Gazans crowd aid convoy, more than 100 people die


Israeli forces opened fire as a crowd gathered Thursday near a convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed aid to Gaza City, part of a chaotic scene in which dozens of people were killed and wounded, according to Israeli health officials. Gaza and the Israeli army.

The details of what happened were unclear, and officials on both sides offered wildly different accounts. Gaza’s Health Ministry said in a statement that more than 100 people were killed and more than 700 injured in a “massacre.” Israeli military officials said most of the casualties were due to a stampede of Gazans who crowded around aid trucks and that soldiers had fired only after a separate crowd approached them in a threatening manner.

About 100 people with gunshot wounds were taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital in Gaza City, according to its director, Husam Abu Safiya, and the wounded were transferred to other hospitals in the north. Mr. Abu Safiya said the hospital also received 12 bodies of people shot dead.

According to an Israeli military official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, about 30 trucks carrying humanitarian aid traveled from the Kerem Shalom crossing between southern Israel and Gaza along the coastal highway toward northern Gaza.

As the trucks approached Gaza City early Thursday morning, thousands of people surrounded the trucks in an attempt to take away supplies, causing a crush in which dozens were injured and killed, in some cases run over. by aid trucks trying to free themselves, according to the officer.

The official said that several hundred meters further south, at the end of the convoy, dozens of civilians who had crowded the trucks there approached Israeli troops and a tank securing the road.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a televised briefing that soldiers opened fire “only in the face of danger when the mob moved in a way that endangered them.”

“We did not shoot those who sought help, despite the accusations,” he said. “We did not shoot at the humanitarian convoy, neither from the air nor from the ground. “We secured it so it could reach northern Gaza.”

Admiral Hagari did not elaborate on whether people were killed or injured in the shooting and declined to provide a precise date, except that the trucks approached Gaza City around 4:45 a.m.

Neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli account could be confirmed. A witness at the scene, doctor Yehia Al Masri, said he had seen dozens of dead and wounded people with gunshot wounds, as well as bodies in the street of people who appeared to have died in a stampede or been run over. by aid trucks.

Gazans, especially in the north of the territory, are increasingly desperate for food. The United Nations and other aid groups are struggling to deliver supplies amid Israel’s nearly five-month military offensive, as law and order crumbles and Israel imposes restrictions on deliveries.

The Israeli military released drone video, which it also edited, showing hundreds of people crowded around trucks along Al-Rashid Road in southwest Gaza City. At one point in the footage, people start running, and some crawl behind walls and appear to take cover.

After a cut in the video, at least a dozen bodies are seen on the ground; It is unclear whether the people are injured or dead. During the panic, some people appear to be run over by aid trucks. Two Israeli military vehicles are also seen at the site.

Planet Labs satellite image, captured on February 14.

By Lázaro Gamio and Haley Willis

It was unclear who was supervising the convoy Thursday. Philippe Lazzarini, head of the main UN aid group serving the Palestinians, said on social media that neither his agency, UNRWA, nor any other UN agency “were involved in this distribution.”

Palestinian leaders, Arab officials and international aid groups condemned the bloodshed, and a Hamas official warned that the killings could derail talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire.

President Biden said he was still learning the details of what happened but believed the deaths could jeopardize diplomatic talks. “I know it will be that way,” he told reporters.

White House spokeswoman Olivia Dalton called the deaths “deeply tragic” and said “too many civilian lives have been lost as a result of military operations in Gaza.” She added: “We believe this latest development should be fully investigated.”

Gaza has been under near-total siege since the war began on Oct. 7 with an attack on Israel led by Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that had long controlled Gaza. Aid became absolutely critical for Gaza’s more than two million residents when Israel began a bombardment and then invaded the territory.

The United Nations recently warned that at least a quarter of Gaza’s population is “one step away from famine,” and Gaza’s Health Ministry said Wednesday that at least six children had died in the territory from dehydration and malnutrition. .

The body of a Palestinian in Gaza City on Thursday, after Israeli soldiers opened fire near a convoy of aid trucks in which dozens of people were killed and wounded.Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The ministry said the death toll at the convoy site on Thursday was expected to rise as injured Palestinians arrived at Al-Shifa hospital, where medical staff “could not cope with the volume and type of injuries” amid from the lack of medical supplies and personnel.

The World Food Program said last week it had suspended food deliveries to isolated northern Gaza due to the challenges of safely delivering aid there. Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, said on Sunday that the last time the agency was able to deliver aid to northern Gaza was more than a month ago.

Lawlessness is rampant in many parts of northern and southern Gaza, residents and aid officials say, with no authority emerging to take charge of law and order after Israel’s overthrow of Hamas forces in those areas. Israeli leaders have said they do not want to administer civilian life in Gaza, although they intend to maintain security control there indefinitely.

In recent weeks, large crowds of desperate Gazans have repeatedly rushed aid convoys, stripping them of their contents, sometimes while armed.

The Israeli military has said it is working to ensure humanitarian convoys can reach the many Gazans who depend on them. Some Gaza police now refuse to protect convoys because they fear they will be attacked by Israeli soldiers, Western officials say.

In late January, an attack hit a crowd of people waiting for aid trucks in Gaza City, killing several people and wounding dozens more, Gaza health authorities said.

Haley Willis, Aric Toler and Robin Stein contributed reporting.

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