Israel says ‘Palestinians’, not army, fired on Gaza crowd

"Armed Palestinians opened fire while Gazan civilians were awaiting the arrival of the aid convoy" in Gaza City, the army said.

The Israeli army said Friday that “armed Palestinians” opened fire on civilians awaiting humanitarian aid in northern Gaza, rejecting claims by the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry that Israeli soldiers were responsible.

Armed Palestinians opened fire while Gazan civilians were awaiting the arrival of the aid convoy” in Gaza City on Thursday and then “continued to shoot as the crowd of Gazans began looting the trucks”, the army said in a statement.

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The army did not provide a death toll for the incident which occurred Thursday in Gaza City, but said “a number of Gazan civilians were run over by the trucks”.

The Gaza health ministry had earlier said Israeli fire killed 20 people and wounded 155 at a roundabout, and an AFP journalist on the scene saw several bodies and people who had been shot.

“A review of our operational systems and (army) forces on the ground found that no tank fire, air strike or gunfire was carried out toward the Gazan civilians at the aid convoy,” the Israeli statement said.

On February 29, also in north Gaza, more than 100 Gazans were killed, according to the health ministry, when Israeli forces opened fire on people scambling for food from a convoy.

Israel’s army said its initial probe into that incident found troops “fired precisely” at suspects who approached them and posed a threat.

There are mounting fears of famine in war-ravaged Gaza, especially in the north where shortages are most severe.

The United Nations and aid workers say cumbersome Israeli inspections are responsible for the lack of food and other essentials, while Israel has pointed to problems with distributing aid once it enters Gaza.

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The Israeli statement said the army “continues its humanitarian effort to supply food and humanitarian aid to the civilians of the Gaza Strip“.

Israel and Hamas have been at war since Hamas’s unprecedented October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official Israeli figures.

Israel’s retaliatory military campaign to destroy Hamas has killed at least 31,341 people, according to the Gaza health ministry.

© Agence France-Presse