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Dozens dead after violence near aid trucks in Gaza City

Ethan Bronner and Fares Akram, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Scores of Palestinians were killed and injured on Thursday during an outbreak of violence around a convoy of food trucks attempting to deliver humanitarian aid in northern Gaza.

Local health officials blamed Israeli forces for the unrest, which left 112 dead, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The Israeli military said: “Gazan residents surrounded the trucks and looted the supplies being delivered. During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling.” The events are under review, according to the statement.

The flare-up comes as Israel’s war in Gaza nears the end of its fifth month, with the military seeking to destroy the Islamist group Hamas after its militants invaded the country on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and kidnapping 250 more. Israel’s counterattack has left more than 30,000 dead, according to the health ministry, while the bombardment has devastated parts of the territory and limited access to food and health care.

Israel says more than a third of those killed were fighters of Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.

Negotiations led by the U.S., Qatar and Egypt are underway for a pause in the conflict that would allow more aid to be delivered, as well as the exchange of Hamas-held hostages for Palestinian prisoners. President Joe Biden said Thursday he remains hopeful about the prospects of a cease-fire, but the aid-truck violence would likely affect the talks. He previously said Monday was the aimed-for starting date.

 

Senior Biden administration officials have been in touch with the Israeli government about the incident and the U.S. will monitor the investigation and press for answers, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters Thursday.

“This tragic event also underscores the importance of expanding and sustaining the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza in response to the dire humanitarian situation, including through a potential temporary ceasefire as part of a hostage deal,” Miller said.

One Israeli military officer said some Gazans seeking aid approached the forces in a threatening manner, and some responded with live fire. An early army account said a handful of the casualties were caused by its soldiers, the rest a result of the chaos.

A witness, Mohammed al-Shouli, speaking by phone, said thousands of people had gathered to wait for the trucks, which started passing an Israeli checkpoint at around 4am.

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