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Deaths at aid delivery site in Gaza draw condemnation

Paris, France | March 1, 2024, Friday @ 06:50 in World » GENERAL | By: AFP | Views: 2187
Deaths at aid delivery site in Gaza draw condemnation

This image grab from a handout video released by the Israeli army on February 29, 2024, shows what the army says are Gazans around aid trucks in Gaza City. Israeli forces shot dead 104 people when a crowd rushed towards aid trucks on February 29, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said. 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. (Photo by Aline MANOUKIAN / Israeli Army / AFP)

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Israeli troops in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire on Palestinians scrambling for food aid on Thursday in a chaotic incident that the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said killed more than 100 people.

Though there were conflicting reports on how the pre-dawn incident unfolded, the Israeli military said a "stampede" occurred when thousands of Gazans surrounded a convoy of 38 aid trucks, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries, including some people being run over.

An Israeli source said troops had opened fire on the crowd, believing it "posed a threat".

The Gaza health ministry condemned the "massacre" in Gaza City, saying 112 people were killed and more than 750 wounded.

Reactions to the deaths have poured in from around the world.

- US 'pressing for answers' -

US President Joe Biden said the incident would complicate delicate ceasefire negotiations in the almost five-month-old war, with the White House calling the deaths "tremendously alarming".

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters the United States was "urgently seeking additional information on exactly what took place".

Washington will be monitoring an upcoming investigation closely and "pressing for answers", he said.

- France says fire 'unjustifiable' -

France's foreign ministry said "the fire by Israeli soldiers against civilians trying to access food is unjustifiable".

The "tragic event" came as an "increasing and unbearable number of Palestinian civilians" were suffering from hunger and disease, it added, saying Israel must abide by international law and protect aid deliveries to civilians.

Writing on the social media platform X that Palestinian "civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers", French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his "strongest condemnation" of the killings.

- Turkey condemns 'crime against humanity' -

Turkey accused Israel of committing "another crime against humanity" and condemning Gazans to "famine" as civilians scavenge for dwindling supplies of food.

"The fact that Israel... this time targets innocent civilians in a queue for humanitarian aid, is evidence that (Israel) aims consciously and collectively to destroy the Palestinian people", the Turkish foreign ministry said.

- Colombia scraps Israel arms purchases -

Colombia's President Gustavo Petro denounced what he called a "genocide" of the Palestinian people and suspended purchases of weapons from Israel, a key supplier of his country's security forces.

"Asking for food, more than 100 Palestinians were killed by (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. This is called genocide and recalls the Holocaust," Petro wrote on X.

"The world must block Netanyahu."

- Spain condemns 'unacceptable' incident -

"The unacceptable nature of what happened in Gaza, with dozens of Palestinian civilians dead as they were waiting for food, underlines the urgency of a ceasefire," Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares wrote on X.

- Italy demands 'immediate ceasefire' -

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza and urged Israel to protect the Palestinian population after the "tragic deaths".

"We strongly urge Israel to protect the people in Gaza and to rigorously ascertain facts and responsibilities," he said on X.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her "deep dismay and concern" over the violence.

- UN condemnation -

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the incident and was "appalled by the tragic human toll of the conflict", his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"The desperate civilians in Gaza need urgent help, including those in the besieged north where the United Nations has not been able to deliver aid in more than a week," Dujarric said.

- EU decries 'carnage' -

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell denounced the deaths as "totally unacceptable".

"I am horrified by news of yet another carnage among civilians in Gaza desperate for humanitarian aid," he said on X.

- Qatar denounces 'heinous massacre' -

Qatar's foreign ministry condemned "in the strongest terms the heinous massacre committed by the Israeli occupation", calling for "urgent international action" to halt the fighting in Gaza.

It went on to warn that Israel's "disregard for Palestinian lives... will ultimately undermine international efforts aimed at implementing the two-state solution, and thus pave the way for the expansion of the cycle of violence in the region".

- Saudi calls for ceasefire -

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry condemned the deaths and reiterated "the need to reach an immediate ceasefire".

It also renewed its "demands to the international community to take a firm position to oblige Israel to respect international humanitarian law, immediately open safe humanitarian corridors, allow the evacuation of the injured, and enable the delivery of relief aid".

© Agence France-Presse

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