Israel-Hamas: stampede and fatal shooting during food distribution in war-ravaged Gaza


Five Palestinians died this Saturday morning, including three having succumbed to gunfire, during a food distribution which turned into chaos in the besieged Gaza Strip threatened by famine, where Israeli bombings as well as clashes between army and Hamas continue. Nearly six months after the start of the war, triggered by an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against Israel, the Israeli army has carried out new raids on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 82 people in the last 24 hours, according to Hamas.

The main information to remember:

  • Five Palestinians died this Saturday morning, including three who died from gunfire, during a food distribution
  • A second boat left the port of Larnaca on Saturday, using a maritime corridor between the island of Cyprus and the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid
  • In total, more than 32,705 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli retaliatory offensive
  • The Israeli army carried out new raids on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 82 people in the last 24 hours, according to Hamas
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Friday that he had approved a next round of negotiations

Huge stampede during food aid distribution

A sign of the desperate humanitarian situation, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported five deaths, three having succumbed to gunfire, and 30 injured on Saturday at dawn in Gaza City, following a huge stampede during a distribution of food aid, at the Kuwait roundabout. Videos filmed by AFP show trucks honking their horns and moving forward in the dark, in the middle of rubbish fires, while shots ring out all around, on this roundabout, the scene of previous similar incidents in recent weeks.

Several seconds of chaos ensue, while ambulances with screaming sirens try to make their way between the rubble of buildings and the mountains of garbage that litter the streets disfigured by the war. According to testimonies collected by AFP, members of “popular protection committees”, responsible for supervising the distribution, fired into the air, injuring several people, while the trucks ran over others. At the same time, Israeli tanks positioned a few hundred meters away were firing. Contacted by AFP, the Israeli army indicated that it had “no trace of the incident”.

Second boat bringing aid to Gaza leaves Cyprus

A second boat left the port of Larnaca on Saturday, using a maritime corridor between the island of Cyprus and the Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory on the brink of famine, an AFP journalist noted . The “Jennifer” is part of a flotilla carrying around 400 tonnes of aid, chartered by the NGOs World Central Kitchen and Open Arms.

The ship, accompanied by two tugboats, will take around 65 hours to reach the Gaza Strip, where Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas have been waging a devastating war for almost six months, according to the Cypriot press agency. The American NGO World Central Kitchen specified that the cargo contained food products, such as rice, pasta, flour, vegetables and proteins.

For its part, the United Arab Emirates provided a shipment of dates, which are traditionally eaten to break the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The aid should be transported to Gaza via a temporary jetty built by World Central Kitchen southwest of the city where a first boat unloaded its cargo in mid-March under the supervision of the Israeli army. These aid shipments by sea are inspected on departure from Larnaca by Israeli agents.

“Not enough food”

A few days ago, eighteen Palestinians died, including twelve drowned at sea, while desperately trying to recover food parachuted into the narrow strip of land. Each time, the modus operandi is the same. On the ground, residents observe the parachuted packages and rush when they land, causing stampedes. The majority of the 2.4 million inhabitants are threatened with famine, UN agencies have been warning, in vain, for weeks. Strictly controlled by Israel, humanitarian aid enters the Palestinian territory, where Hamas took power in 2007.

“We don’t have enough food and water,” Amany, 44, a Palestinian mother of seven, who found refuge in the Chati camp, told AFP on Friday. On Thursday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest judicial body of the UN, ordered Israel to provide “urgent humanitarian aid” to Gaza, in the face of “an emerging famine”.

Israel must “allow UNRWA to reach the north of the Gaza Strip with food convoys (…) daily and to open other land crossing points,” insisted the head of the Gaza Strip Agency. UN for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini. Israel, for its part, says it is not involved in the distribution of food in Gaza, accusing UN agencies of being incapable of managing the amount of aid that arrives there every day.

More than 32,000 dead

In total, more than 32,705 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli retaliatory offensive, according to the Hamas health ministry. While negotiations to reach a truce appeared to be at an impasse, with both camps accusing each other of being behind the blockage, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that he had “approved a next round of negotiations, in the days to come, in Doha and Cairo (…) to move forward,” according to his office.

In recent months, several negotiation sessions have taken place via international mediators – Egypt, Qatar, United States -, but without result. Since the start of the war, only one week-long truce has been established at the end of November. It allowed the release of around a hundred hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack in exchange for Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by Israel.

In the meantime, airstrikes and ground fighting continue despite the passing of a UN Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire. On Saturday, the Israeli army said it had struck dozens of targets in central Gaza. The Hamas press office, for its part, affirmed that certain strikes targeted “dwellings”, also reporting artillery fire in Gaza City and in the south of the small, overpopulated territory.

Israeli army “operations” in hospitals

The Israeli army, which accuses Hamas fighters of hiding in hospitals, announced on Saturday that it was continuing, for the 13th consecutive day, its “operations” in and around the largest al-Chifa hospital complex in Gaza City ( north). According to Hamas, Israeli troops are also present at Nasser hospital and Al-Amal hospital, both located in the southern town of Khan Younes.

Benjamin Netanyahu says he is determined to launch a ground offensive further south, in Rafah, where there are 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority displaced by the violence, despite international pressure, including American pressure.

4 UN observers injured in Lebanon by a shell near the border with Israel

Four UN observers were injured on Saturday by a shell in southern Lebanon, their organization announced, while the Israeli-Lebanese border is the scene of daily exchanges of fire between Israel and Shiite Hezbollah . “This morning, four UNO military observers who were carrying out a foot patrol along the Blue Line” marking the border with Israel “were injured when a shell exploded nearby,” the organization said in a statement.

Deeming it “unacceptable to target peacekeeping forces”, the Onust (United Nations body responsible for monitoring the truce) called on all parties to “cease the heavy exchanges of fire”. This body, which includes unarmed observers, is separate from the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL), of which some 10,000 peacekeepers are deployed in southern Lebanon, on the border with Israel.

The statement added that the observers were hospitalized, saying they were “investigating the origin of the explosion.” Since the start of the violence in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL peacekeepers have been injured. On Thursday, she called for an “immediate” de-escalation at the border, the day after a deadly day during which twelve civilians, including ten rescuers, were killed.

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