Israeli fire kills six Gazans awaiting aid trucks, say Palestinian health officials

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 5:00 AM

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

CAIRO (Reuters) – Israeli fire killed six Palestinians and wounded dozens of others as crowds of residents awaited aid trucks in Gaza City, Gaza health ministry officials said on Thursday.

Palestinians were rushing to get aid supplies at the Kuwait roundabout in northern Gaza City late on Wednesday evening when Israeli forces opened fire, residents and health officials said. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.

The conflict in Gaza has displaced most of the enclave’s 2.3 million population and there have been chaotic scenes and deadly incidents at aid distributions as desperately hungry people scramble for food.

On Feb. 29, Palestinian health authorities said Israeli forces shot dead more than 100 Palestinians as they waited for an aid delivery near Gaza City. Israel blamed the deaths on crowds that surrounded aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over.

In Deir Al-Balah in central Gaza, an Israeli missile hit a house, killing nine people on Thursday, Palestinian medics said. Residents said Israeli aerial and ground bombardments continued overnight on areas across the enclave including in Rafah in the south, where over a million displaced people are sheltering.

The war began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel then launched an air, sea, and ground assault that has killed more than 31,000 Palestinians, health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say.

The Gaza health ministry said on Thursday Israeli military strikes across Gaza Strip had killed 69 Palestinians and wounded 110 others in the past 24 hours.

With the war now in its sixth month, the U.N. has warned that at least 576,000 people in Gaza – one quarter of the population – are on the brink of famine and global pressure has been growing on Israel to allow more access to the enclave.

Israel denies obstructing aid deliveries into Gaza. It has blamed failures by aid agencies for delays and has accused Hamas of diverting aid. Hamas denies this and says Israel uses hunger as a weapon in its military offensive.

A ship carrying aid is currently approaching Gaza in a pilot trial of maritime delivery, that is expected to be followed up by a U.S. military effort to set up a dock on Gaza’s coast that will enable distribution of up to two million meals a day.

While welcoming aid ships, Palestinian and U.N. officials say maritime deliveries are not a substitute for sending aid through land crossings.

(Reporting and writing by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Ros Russell)