Gunfire accounts for 80% of wounds from aid convoy bloodshed – senior medic

2 March 2024, 07:54

Injured Palestinians
Israel Palestinians. Picture: PA

At least 115 Palestinians were killed on Thursday after Israel troops opened fire as crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy.

The head of a Gaza City hospital that treated some of the Palestinians injured in the bloodshed surrounding an aid convoy said more than 80% had been struck by gunfire, suggesting heavy shooting by Israeli troops.

At least 115 Palestinians were killed and more than 750 others were injured in the city on Thursday, according to health officials, when witnesses said nearby Israeli troops opened fire as huge crowds raced to pull goods off an aid convoy.

Israeli officials said many of the dead had been trampled in a crowd surge that started when desperate Palestinians in Gaza rushed the aid trucks. Israel added its troops fired warning shots after the crowd moved toward them in a threatening way.

Wreckage in Gaza
Palestinians walk through the destruction from the Israeli offensive in Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip on Thursday (AP)

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

He could not address the cause of death of those killed, because the bodies had been taken to government-run hospitals to be counted.

Dr Husam Abu Safyia, director of Kamal Adwan Hospital, said the majority of the injured taken there had gunshot wounds in the upper part of their bodies, and many of the deaths were from gunshots to the head, neck or chest.

The bloodshed underlined how the chaos of Israel’s almost five-month-old offensive has crippled efforts to bring aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, a quarter of whom the United Nations says face starvation.

The UN 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.

UN officials say hunger is even worse in the north, where several hundred thousand Palestinians remain even though the area has been isolated and mostly levelled since Israeli troops launched their ground offensive there in late October.

UN agencies have not 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.

The United Nations says a UN team that visited Shifa Hospital in Gaza City reported “a large number of gunshot wounds” among the more than 200 people still being treated for injuries on Friday from Thursday’s chaotic aid convoy scene.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and several European leaders have called for an independent, credible investigation into what happened.

Acknowledging the difficulty of getting aid in, US President Joe Biden said on Friday that America will soon begin air drops of assistance to Gaza and will look for other ways to get shipments in, “including possibly a marine corridor”.

The announcement came hours after a Jordanian plane over northern Gaza dropped packages attached to parachutes, including rice, flour and baby formula.

Mr Biden said: “Innocent lives are on the line, and children’s lives are on the line. We won’t stand by until we get more aid in there.

“We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several.”

Aid officials have said air drops are an incredibly expensive way of distributing assistance.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said on Thursday: “I don’t think the air dropping of food in the Gaza Strip should be the answer today. The real answer is: open the crossing and bring convoys and bring meaningful assistance into the Gaza Strip.”

Israeli APC
An Israeli armoured personnel carrier near the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel (AP)

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 is uncertain if any would co-operate.

That would leave Israeli troops to oversee the population during the massive post-war humanitarian and reconstruction operation envisioned by the international community.

Israel launched its air, sea and ground offensive in Gaza in response to Hamas’ October 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 more aid in, the number of supply trucks is far less than the 500 that came in daily before the war.

The Gaza health ministry said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,228, with another 71,377 injured. The ministry does not 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.

Many of the wounded described a scene of desperation and chaos, with people climbing on the moving trucks to get bags of flour when Israeli troops began shooting, including from a tank.

By Press Association

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