Middle east

Israeli massacre targets a crowd gathered around aid distribution

Tanks open fire on dozens of Palestinians rushing to get scarce aid in western Gaza

More than 110 Palestinians were killed and hundreds injured by Israeli forces’ gunfire on Thursday as they attempted to access humanitarian aid in western Gaza City in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The spokesperson for Hamas‘ health ministry, Ashraf al-Qudra, reported that “the death toll from the massacre in Rashid Street has risen to 104 martyrs and 760 injuries from Israeli occupation forces’ gunfire, targeting the gathering of citizens who tried to obtain food as aid trucks loaded with flour arrived at the Nablusi intersection west of Gaza City.”

An Israeli military source acknowledged that soldiers fired at a crowd of Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid in Rashid Street south of Gaza City, resulting in a large number of casualties.

He stated, “The incident occurred near the humanitarian passage our forces were securing,” adding, “As a result of the violent gathering, part of the crowds approached a military force that was responsible for allowing and transporting trucks as part of a humanitarian campaign to transport aid, posing a threat to the forces which responded by opening fire,” and noted that “the incident is under investigation.”

The director of emergency services at al-Shifa Hospital, Amjad al-Aloua, previously stated in a statement that “at least 50 martyrs and over 120 wounded, including women and children, fell victim to the occupation’s gunfire early today towards thousands of citizens who gathered upon the arrival of aid trucks at the Nablusi intersection west of Gaza City.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that it is “aware of the reports.”

According to an eyewitness, the incident occurred at the Nablusi roundabout in western Gaza City as “many Palestinians rushed to get the scarce aid that has been reaching their area since the war began.”

He added, “The trucks filled with aid approached some (Israeli) army tanks in the area and the crowds rushed towards the trucks.” The witness, who requested anonymity, continued, “The soldiers opened fire on the crowds when people approached the tanks.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, through his spokesperson, stated, “We do not know exactly what happened. But whether these people were killed by Israeli gunfire, crushed by the crowds, or run over by trucks, these are acts of violence somehow connected to this conflict,” adding that the incident occurred under “horrific conditions.”

The White House stated on Thursday that it is looking into reports of Israel firing on Palestinians who were waiting for aid near Gaza City, calling it a “serious incident.”

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said in a statement, “We extend our condolences for the loss of innocent lives and acknowledge the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where innocent Palestinians are trying to feed their families.”

He added, “This highlights the importance of expanding the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza and continuing it, including through a potential temporary cessation of hostilities.”

U.S. President Joe Biden stated on Thursday that the United States is investigating reports of Israel firing on people waiting for food aid in Gaza, expressing his belief that the bloody incident will complicate talks on a ceasefire.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry condemned Israel’s targeting of aid queues consisting of civilians in northern Gaza.

In a statement, it expressed “strong condemnation of the targeting of innocent civilians in northern Gaza, which resulted in the death of dozens and the injury of hundreds, due to the occupation forces’ shelling of humanitarian aid queues in Gaza.”

It affirmed “the Kingdom’s firm rejection of violations of international humanitarian law by any party and under any pretext.”

Saudi Arabia reiterated its “call on the international community to take a firm stance compelling Israel to respect international humanitarian law, immediately open safe humanitarian corridors, and allow for the evacuation of the injured.”

It also called for “facilitating the delivery of relief aid and medical equipment without restrictions, to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe and prevent its escalation,” emphasizing “the need for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further civilian casualties.”

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh described the Israeli attack targeting Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid south of Gaza City as “a barbaric act.”

Khatibzadeh said in a post on his Twitter account, “More than 100 Palestinians waiting in queues for humanitarian aid on Rashid Street in Gaza were killed, and more than 800 others were injured as a result of the barbaric attack by the Zionist entity.”

He added, “The shame of supporting the murderous Zionist regime and remaining silent about the genocide against Palestinians will not be erased from the foreheads of fake human rights defenders in the United States and Europe.”

The United Nations Security Council is meeting behind closed doors today following the announcement by Gaza’s health ministry of the killing of nearly a hundred Palestinians during a aid distribution operation in the northern sector, according to the updated work program of the council.

UN estimates indicate that the vast majority of Gaza’s 2.4 million residents are at risk of famine, especially in the northern part of the territory.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) stated that it has introduced just over 2,300 aid trucks into the Gaza Strip during February, representing a decrease of about 50 percent compared to January.

Hamas described the incident as a “horrible massacre” and said that citizens “went to get food and aid after being hungry and starving over 700,000 people for 146 days.”

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the “heinous massacre,” considering it “an integral part of the genocide being committed by the occupation government against our people.”

The war broke out on October 7 following an unprecedented attack launched by the movement on southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,160 people, the majority of whom were civilians, according to a count by Agence France-Presse based on official Israeli data.

Around 250 hostages were held, with Israel saying that 130 of them are still in Gaza, and it is believed that 31 of them were killed.

Israel has vowed to “eliminate” the movement and has carried out intense bombing operations, accompanied by ground operations starting from October 27, resulting in the deaths of 30,035 people and injuring 70,457 others according to the latest figures from the health ministry in the territory governed by Hamas.

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