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Home / News / Israel denies claims 20 Gazans were killed awaiting aid

Israel denies claims 20 Gazans were killed awaiting aid

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said that Israeli fire killed 20 people and wounded 155 waiting to receive desperately needed aid in the besieged territory, but Israel said the reports were “erroneous”.

Efforts mounted yesterday to get more aid into the devastated Palestinian territory, where fighting still rages after mediators failed to reach a truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The health ministry said in a statement that citizens had gathered at a roundabout in Gaza City in the north when they were fired upon by Israeli forces, revising upward an initial toll of 11 killed and 100 wounded.

Mohammed Ghurab, director of emergency services at a hospital in northern Gaza, told AFP there were “direct shots by the occupation forces” on people who had gathered at the roundabout to wait for a food truck.

An AFP journalist on the scene saw several bodies and people who had been shot.

The Israeli military denied it had opened fire on the crowd of Gazans waiting for aid.

“Press reports that Israeli forces attacked dozens of Gazans at an aid distribution point are erroneous,” it said in a brief statement, adding that it was “analyzing the incident seriously”.

UN agencies have warned of famine in Gaza, which Israel besieged after the unprecedented attack by Hamas militants on 7 October.

The humanitarian emergency has forced some countries to use airdrops and sea routes for aid supplies because of limited land access to Gaza via Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

The Spanish aid vessel Open Arms, towing about 200 tonnes of food, was nearing Israel’s coast after departing Cyprus on Tuesday, the Marinetraffic website showed on Thursday.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said a second, bigger vessel was being readied for the maritime aid corridor, which will be complemented by a temporary pier to be built off Gaza by US troops.

However, the air and sea missions are “no alternative” to land deliveries, 25 organisations including Amnesty International and Oxfam said in a statement.

Dire shortages have left many scrambling for scraps of aid, among them Mokhles al-Masry, 27, who was displaced from Beit Hanoun to Beit Lahia in northern Gaza.

“There is no food, nothing to feed our children. We can’t even find a bottle of baby milk. We’ve been wandering around since early morning, hoping that a plane would drop parachutes,” he said.

Amnesty’s secretary general, Agnes Callamard, said the decision to build the pier, could enable the provision of more than two million meals a day, suggested that the international community seemed to accept that the war will drag on.


Read the latest stories on the conflict between Israel and Hamas


Meanwhile, Australia has said it will resume funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, after investigating claims some staff were linked to the Hamas attack on 7 October.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has been at the centre of controversy since Israel accused 12 of its employees of working with Islamist group Hamas.

About 15 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia and Japan pulled support from the agency earlier this year.

“The nature of these allegations warranted an immediate and appropriate response,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

“The best available current advice from agencies and Australian government lawyers is that UNRWA is not a terrorist organisation.

“After consideration by the national security committee this week, Australia is unpausing our contribution to UNRWA.”

Ms Wong said Australia would resume its stalled €3.68 million contribution after the aid agency agreed to put in additional safeguards.

“I know there are people starving in Gaza,” she told reporters.

“I know that UNRWA is critical to providing this assistance to people who are on the brink.”

The Canadian and Swedish governments announced they were resuming funding for the cash-strapped agency earlier this month, infuriating Israeli officials.

Netanyahu doubles down

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doubled down yesterday on pledges to invade Rafah in the south, where most of Gaza’s population has sought refuge and Israel is threatening a ground assault.

“There is international pressure to prevent us from entering Rafah and completing the job,” Mr Netanyahu said.

“I will continue to repel the pressures and we will enter Rafah… and bring complete victory to the people of Israel,” he said during a visit to a field intelligence base.

Around 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt in and around Rafah.

The war began with the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Israel has carried out a relentless campaign of bombardment and ground operations in Gaza in retaliation, killing at least 31,341 people, most of them civilians, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Hamas militants also seized about 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, dozens of whom were released during a week-long truce in November. Israel believes about 130 of the captives remain in Gaza and that 32 are dead.

Activists and families of Israeli hostages kept up pressure for their negotiated release, again blocking a Tel Aviv highway in protest yesterday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

In a sign of mounting US exasperation with Mr Netanyahu, US Senate leader Chuck Schumer called for a snap election in Israel, describing the veteran hawk as one of several “major obstacles” to a two-state solution and peace.

Washington and other powers have called for a reformed Palestinian Authority to take charge of all Palestinian territories after the war.

The White House welcomed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s appointment of Mohammed Mustafa, a long-trusted adviser on economic affairs, as prime minister three weeks after his predecessor resigned.

US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators failed to broker a new truce in time for Ramadan but Mr Netanyahu said yesterday there was now “Qatari pressure on Hamas”.

“As of this moment, there has been no real response from Hamas. They are still clinging to unacceptable demands,” he told representatives of hostages’ families.

“As a result of our pressure… and also with your help, we are seeing — for the first time — Qatari pressure on Hamas.”

The war has resulted in severe shortages of medical supplies across Gaza, with only a fraction of hospitals partially functioning.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said aid had been delivered to Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza, which he said was “struggling with water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management”.

He added that two of the hospital’s warehouses were being used to shelter 7,000 displaced people.


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