Many of those killed or wounded at Gaza aid post were shot by Israel's army, EU arm says

The European External Action Service said responsibility for the food crisis lay with restrictions imposed by the Israeli army

By AP

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Palestinians wounded in an Israeli strike while waiting for humanitarian aid on the beach in Gaza City are treated in Shifa Hospital. — AP
Palestinians wounded in an Israeli strike while waiting for humanitarian aid on the beach in Gaza City are treated in Shifa Hospital. — AP

Published: Sat 2 Mar 2024, 8:58 PM

Many of the Palestinians killed or wounded in the chaos as they tried to get bags of flour from an aid convoy were hit by Israeli army fire, the European Union’s diplomatic service said on Saturday, urging an international investigation.

Outrage is rising over the desperation of hundreds of thousands struggling to survive in northern Gaza after nearly five months of fighting between Israel and Hamas. United States military planes began the first airdrops of thousands of meals into Gaza, and the militaries of Jordan and Egypt said they also conducted airdrops.


The European External Action Service said responsibility for the crisis lay with “restrictions imposed by the Israeli army and obstructions by violent extremist(s) to the supply of humanitarian aid".

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Residents in northern Gaza say they have taken to searching piles of rubble and garbage for anything to feed their children, who barely eat one meal a day. Many families have begun mixing animal and bird food with grain to bake bread. International aid officials say they have encountered catastrophic hunger.

“We’re dying from starvation,” said Soad Abu Hussein, a widow and mother of five children who has taken shelter in a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

At least 10 children have starved to death, according to hospital records in Gaza, the World Health Organization said.

Israeli Border Police detain a Palestinian man ahead of Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. — AP
Israeli Border Police detain a Palestinian man ahead of Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. — AP

Gaza's Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,320. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures, but says women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

In Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where more than half of the territory’s people now seek refuge, an Israeli airstrike on Saturday struck tents outside the Emirati hospital, killing 11 people and wounding about 50, including health workers, Gaza’s Health Ministry said.

Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive, reduced much of densely populated northern Gaza to rubble. The military told Palestinians to move south, but as many as 300,000 people are believed to have remained.

Roughly one in six children under the age of 2 in the north suffer from acute malnutrition and wasting, “the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world,” Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Program, said this week. “If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza.”

People have overwhelmed trucks delivering food aid to the region and grabbed what they can, Skau said, forcing the WFP to suspend aid deliveries to the north.

“The breakdown in civil order, driven by sheer desperation, is preventing the safe distribution of aid,” he said.

In the violence on Thursday, hundreds of people rushed about 30 trucks bringing a predawn delivery of aid to the north. Palestinians said nearby Israeli troops shot into the crowds. Israel said they fired warning shots toward the crowd and insisted many of the dead were trampled.

Doctors at hospitals in Gaza and a UN team that visited a hospital there said large numbers of the wounded had been shot.

Ahmed Abdel Karim, who was being treated at Kamal Adwan Hospital for gunshot wounds in his feet, said he had spent two days waiting for aid trucks to arrive before Thursday’s convoy came.

“Everyone attacked and advanced on these trucks. Because of the large number, I could not get flour,” he said. He was shot by Israeli troops, he said.

Radwan Abdel-Hai, a father of four young children, heard a rumour late Wednesday that an aid convoy was on its way. He and five others took a donkey cart to meet it and found a “sea of people” waiting for the aid.

As people reached the trucks, “tanks started firing at us,” he said. “As I ran back, I heard tank shells and gunfire. I heard people screaming. I saw people falling to the ground, some motionless.”

Abdel-Hai took shelter in a nearby building. When the shooting stopped, many dead people were on the ground, he said. “Many were shot in their back,” he said.

Abu Hussein, the widow, said more than 5,000 people — mostly women and children — living with her in the Jabaliya school have not received any aid for more than four weeks. Adults eat one meal or less to save food for the children, she said.

A group of people went to the shore to try to fish, but three were killed and two were wounded by gunfire from Israeli ships, she said. “They just wanted to get something for their children.”

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mansour Hamed, a 32-year-old former aid worker living with more than 50 relatives in a Gaza City house, said some are eating tree leaves and animal food. It has become normal to find a child coming out of the rubble with a rotten piece of bread, he said.

“They are desperate. They want anything to stay alive.”


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