Israeli Forces Open Fire on Gaza Aid Point; 104 People Killed

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Palestinian Territories: Israeli forces in war-torn Gaza opened fire on a crowd of Palestinians at an aid distribution point Thursday, killing at least 104 people and wounding over 700 according to Palestinian health officials.

Israeli sources confirmed that troops shot at the crowd, believing they “posed a threat”, in the pre-dawn incident in Gaza City in the north of the besieged territory.

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza condemned what it labelled a “massacre” and said it had claimed at least 104 lives and left 760 people wounded.

A witness told AFP that the violence unfolded when thousands of people desperate for food rushed towards aid trucks at the city’s western Nabulsi roundabout. 

“Trucks full of aid came too close to some army tanks that were in the area and the crowd, thousands of people, just stormed the trucks,” the witness said, declining to be named for safety reasons. 

“The soldiers fired at the crowd as people came too close to the tanks.” 

The Israeli army initially said that “during the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip, Gazan residents surrounded the trucks and looted the supplies being delivered”. 

It added that “during the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling. The incident is under review.”

Later an Israeli source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity, that “the crowd approached the forces in a manner that posed a threat to the troops, who responded to the threat with live fire”.

As the dead and wounded were taken to several of Gaza’s few functioning hospitals, health officials reported a steadily rising death count.

“Medical teams are unable to deal with the volume and type of injuries arriving at Al-Shifa Medical Complex as a result of weak medical and human capabilities,” one official said in a statement.

– Famine warning –

AFP TV footage showed the corpses of two men being taken away on the back of a donkey drawn cart.

Health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said the death count from the “massacre” in Gaza City “rose to 104 martyrs and 760 injuries due to the bullets of the occupation forces that targeted a gathering of citizens”.

Gaza is facing an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation nearly five months into the war started by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7.

The Hamas attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.  

Israel’s relentless military campaign to eliminate Hamas has killed more than 30,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry.

The UN estimates that the vast majority of Gaza’s 2.4 million people are threatened with famine, particularly in the north where destruction, fighting and looting make aid delivery almost impossible. 

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, just over 2,300 aid trucks have entered the Gaza Strip in February, down by around 50 per cent compared to January. 

Thursday’s bloody incident spurred a heated exchange at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Palestinian ambassador Ibrahim Mohammad Khraishi confronted his Israeli counterpart on the reported casualties and said: “Are these human shields? Are these Hamas combatants?”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)