Gaza doctor: Gunfire caused 80% of wounds from aid convoy attack

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 were injured Thursday when Israeli troops opened fire as crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy.

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World News

March 1, 2024 - 2:07 PM

Palestinian children queue to receive a portion of food at a make-shift charity kitchen in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 8, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. Photo by Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — The head of a Gaza City hospital that treated some of those wounded in the bloodshed surrounding an aid convoy said Friday that more than 80% had been struck by gunfire, suggesting there had been heavy shooting by Israeli troops.

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others were injured Thursday, according to health officials, when witnesses said nearby Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy. Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a stampede linked to the chaos and that its troops fired at some in the crowd who they believed moved toward them in a threatening way.

Dr. Mohammed Salha, the acting director of Al-Awda Hospital, told The Associated Press that 176 wounded were brought to the facility, of whom 142 had suffered gunshot wounds. The other 34 showed injuries from a stampede.

He couldn’t address the cause of death of those killed, because the bodies were taken to government-run hospitals to be counted. Officials at the other hospitals couldn’t immediately be reached concerning the dead and other wounded.

The bloodshed underscored how chaos amid Israel’s almost 5-month-old offensive has crippled the effort to bring aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, a quarter of whom the U.N. says face starvation.

The U.N. and other aid groups have been pleading for safe corridors for aid convoys, saying it has become nearly impossible to deliver supplies in most of Gaza because of the difficulty of coordinating with the Israeli military, ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of public order, including crowds of desperate people who overwhelm aid convoys.

U.N. officials say hunger is even worse in the north, where several hundred thousand Palestinians remain even though the area has been isolated and mostly leveled since Israeli troops launched their ground offensive there in late October. U.N. agencies haven’t delivered aid to the north in more than a month because of military restrictions and lack of security, but several deliveries by other groups reached the area earlier this week.

In a sign of the difficulty in getting aid in, a Jordanian plane airdropped packages including rice, flour and baby formula into northern Gaza on Friday. Aid officials have said that airdrops are not an efficient means of distributing aid and are a measure of last resort.

Thursday’s convoy wasn’t organized by the U.N. Instead, it appeared to have been monitored by the Israeli military, which said its troops were on hand to secure it to ensure it reached northern Gaza. The ensuing shooting and bloodshed raise questions over whether Israel will be able to keep order if it goes through with its postwar plans for Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put forward a plan for Israel to retain open-ended security and political control over the territory — an effective reoccupation — after Hamas is destroyed. Under the plan, Palestinians picked by Israel would administer the territory, but it’s uncertain if any would cooperate.

That would leave Israeli troops, who throughout the war have responded with heavy firepower when they perceive a possible threat, to oversee the population amid what the international community says must be a massive postwar humanitarian and reconstruction operation.

Israel launched its air, sea and ground offensive in Gaza in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack into Israel, in which militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 others. Since the assault began, Israel has barred entry of food, water, medicine and other supplies, except for a trickle of aid entering the south from Egypt at the Rafah crossing and Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing.

Despite international calls to allow in more aid, the number of supply trucks is far less than the 500 that came in daily before the war.

The Gaza Health Ministry said that the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,228, with another 71,377 wounded. 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.

Thursday’s bloodshed took place as a convoy of around 30 trucks entered Gaza City before dawn.

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