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Palestinians wounded on the beach are treated in Shifa Hospital Alamy
Gaza city

Over 100 people killed as Israeli soldiers fire on Gazans rushing to aid trucks, health ministry says

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers opened fire as people pulled flour and canned goods off trucks.


MORE THAN 100 people have been shot dead after a crowd rushed towards aid trucks in Gaza, the region’s health ministry has said. 

More than 750 people were also hurt in the incident, the ministry said.

It came after aid agencies had intensified warnings over Gaza’s humanitarian situation, with famine threatening particularly in Gaza’s north.

Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said hundreds were killed and wounded from “bullets of the occupation forces that targeted a gathering of citizens” at Gaza City’s Nabulsi roundabout.

He called it a “massacre”.

Kamel Abu Nahel, who was being treated for a gunshot wound at Shifa Hospital, said he and others went to the distribution point in the middle of the night because they heard there would be a delivery of food. “We’ve been eating animal feed for two months,” he added.

He said Israeli troops opened fire on the crowd, causing it to scatter, with some people hiding under cars.

After the shooting stopped, they went back to the trucks and the soldiers opened fire again. He was shot in the leg and fell over and then a truck ran over his leg as it sped off, he said.

Ali Awad Ashqir, who had gone to get some flour for his starving family, had been waiting for two hours when violence erupted.

“At approximately 4am the trucks began to arrive. The moment they arrived, the occupation army fired artillery shells and guns,” he told AFP.

“I was hit by a bullet in the left foot and taken to Al-Shifa hospital. I was later discharged because my injuries were moderate.”

Medics arriving at the scene found “dozens or hundreds” lying on the ground, according to Fares Afana, the head of the ambulance service at Kamal Adwan Hospital.

He said there were not enough ambulances to collect all the dead and wounded and that some were being brought to hospitals in donkey carts.

Israeli sources confirmed that troops opened fire at Palestinians rushing toward aid trucks in Gaza, with one saying soldiers thought they “posed a threat” to troops.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, however, said many of the dead were crushed by the trucks themselves, after “aid trucks were overwhelmed by people trying to loot”.

The Gaza health ministry earlier reported that more than 30,000 people have been killed in territory since 7 October.

In a previous investigation, the Associated Press found that ministry’s counts in previous conflicts have held up to UN scrutiny, independent investigations and even Israel’s tallies.

The health ministry also said children have died “due to malnutrition, dehydration and widespread famine” at Al-Shifa hospital.

The crucial southern Gaza city of Rafah is the main entry point for aid crossing the border from neighbouring Egypt.

But the World Food Programme (WFP) said no humanitarian group had been able to deliver aid to the north for more than a month, accusing Israel of blocking access.

Neighbouring Jordan has coordinated efforts to air-drop supplies over southern Gaza.

“If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza,” the World Food Programme’s deputy executive director Carl Skau said.

Israeli officials have denied blocking supplies, and the army yesterday said “50 trucks carrying humanitarian aid” had made it to northern Gaza in recent days.

The current conflict was triggered by an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory military campaign in Gaza has left hundreds of thousands displaced, with nearly 1.5 million people now packed in Rafah.

Includes reporting by © AFP 2024 and the Press Association