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Israeli military review of Gaza aid convoy deaths finds most killed in stampede

Israeli military review of Gaza aid convoy deaths finds most killed in stampede
epa11196224 Palestinians inspect a destroyed truck of the Kuwaiti Relief Foundation which was hit in an Israeli air strike in the west of Deir Al Balah, southern Gaza Strip, 03 March 2024. More than 30,000 Palestinians and over 1,300 Israelis have been killed, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), since Hamas militants launched an attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip on 07 October 2023, and the Israeli operations in Gaza and the West Bank which followed it. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER

JERUSALEM, March 3 (Reuters) - Israel's military said on Sunday most of the Palestinians killed last week as crowds massed near an aid convoy in Gaza died in a stampede but local health officials said casualties brought into hospitals had been hit by large-calibre ammunition.

Pressure has mounted on Israel over the deaths of dozens of Palestinians during a confused incident in the Gaza Strip on Thursday in which crowds surrounded a convoy of aid trucks and soldiers opened fire, with several countries backing a U.N. call for an inquiry.

Palestinian health officials say more than 100 people were killed in the incident in the early hours of the morning, most of them shot by Israeli troops. Israeli officials have dismissed the figures given by the Palestinians but have not offered any estimates of their own.

On Sunday, Israel’s main military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari announced the result of a preliminary review which repeated earlier Israeli statements that most of those killed had been trampled underfoot as crowds rushed the aid trucks.

In addition “several individuals” were targeted as troops fired on people who approached them in the aftermath in a manner that suggested an immediate threat, he said, adding that an independent inquiry had been opened but giving no details.

Muatasem Salah, a member of the Emergency Committee at the Ministry of Health in Gaza, said there were more than 1,000 casualties, dead and wounded, from the incident and he dismissed the findings of the Israeli review.

“Any attempt to claim that people were martyred due to overcrowding or being run over is incorrect. The wounded and martyrs are the result of being shot with heavy-calibre bullets,” he told Reuters.

Giorgios Petropoulos, head of the Gaza sub-office of the UN Co-ordinator for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who visited Gaza’s Shifa hospital on Thursday and Sunday, said he had seen “a huge, overrun emergency department” at the hospital where many of the wounded were treated.

“There were a lot of heavy injuries, there were many, many surgeries,” he told Reuters. “One surgeon told me he had to do 18 surgeries just the first night.”

He said he had seen five or six people with bullet wounds including a young man shot in the right side of the chest who had taken himself to hospital as there were no ambulances. In addition, a smaller number of people had injuries consistent with falling over or being trampled in the dark.

Many of Israel’s closest allies, including the United States, have called for an inquiry into the incident, which underscored the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the increasingly chaotic conditions in which the small amount of aid reaching the enclave is being distributed.

International aid organizations have warned that hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza are facing the threat of famine, some five months after Israeli troops launched their invasion following the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

The attack, which killed some 1,200 Israelis and foreigners, was the deadliest single-day incident in Israel’s 75 year history and Israel has responded with a relentless assault that has so far killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian figures.

As the diplomatic fallout spread, the military said it had launched a more thorough examination of the incident to be handled by “an independent, professional and expert body” which will share its findings as early as in the coming days.

Hagari’s remarks suggested that some of the dead had been killed by Israeli fire after soldiers fired initial warning shots but he gave no details or figures.

“Following the warning shots fired to disperse the stampede and after our forces had started retreating, several looters approached our forces and posed an immediate threat to them. According to the initial review, the soldiers responded toward several individuals,” he said.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, additional reporting by James Mackenzie and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Giles Elgood)

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  • Arthur Lilford says:

    “far killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian figures.” the figures given by a lying organization will be taken with a pinch of salt – but to get back to those killed – In RSA the stats of dead due to violent means per year in 2023 was 75 per day = 27375 per annum – we do this every year and the response from our cANCer style government is “oh dear” lets rather pump money into a dead horse called AS Airways etc etc ” Pretoria, South Africa – Murders have been increasing consistently in South Africa over the past decade, reaching a high of 45 deaths per 100 000 people in 2023. On average, 75 people were killed every day over the last year:

  • Stratford Canning says:

    Why is it that everything the Palestinian Health Officials (read HAMAS) report is believed and everything the Israelis report questioned?

  • Petrus Vermaak says:

    Israel’s military has stated that the main cause of casualties in the Gaza incident was a stampede, backed by a preliminary review. While some were fired upon in response to immediate threats, Israel is conducting an independent inquiry for transparency.

    Contrary claims by Palestinian officials lack concrete evidence and risk escalating tensions. In the face of a humanitarian crisis, Israel’s efforts to provide aid and maintain security should be acknowledged. Supporting its right to self-defense is crucial, rather than unfairly vilifying military actions.

    Israel is right, Hamas is wrong. As simple as that.
    Genesis 12:3, Psalm 122:6,Isaiah 62:6-7

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