Palestinians who were wounded in Israeli fire while waiting for aid, according to health officials, lie on beds at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City on March 1, 2024. — Reuters

World clamours for probe into Gaza aid distribution carnage

Pakistan denounces Israel’s "mass starvation policy"; West condemns killings, Tel Aviv pressed for answers.
Published March 2, 2024

GAZA: Global condemnation flowed on Friday after Israeli forces in war-ravaged Gaza opened fire on Palestinian civilians scrambling for food aid during a chaotic incident.

This recent surge in violence escalated the Palestinian casualty figure in the nearly five-month conflict to over 30,000 deaths, with an additional 70,000 wounded, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry.

Gaza’s health ministry called it a “massacre” and said 112 people were killed and more than 750 others wounded.

Although the Israeli military claimed a “stampede” occurred when thousands of desperate people surrounded a convoy of 38 aid trucks, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries, sources acknowledged that troops had opened fire on the crowd.

Pakistan denounces Israel’s ‘mass starvation policy’; West condemns killings, Tel Aviv pressed for answers

Aerial images released by the Israeli army showed what it said were scores of people surrounding aid trucks in the city.

Ali Awad Ashqir, who said he had gone to get some food for his starving family, told AFP he had been waiting for two hours when trucks began to arrive.

Pakistan also joined the chorus of condemnations, with FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch denouncing the attack as “a blatant disregard for civility and international humanitarian law and Israel’s deliberate and inhumane policy of mass starvation.”

She reiterated Pakistan’s demand for an immediate ceasefire, the lifting of the cruel siege, and the unobstructed delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s populace.

Calls for probe

The EU’s two top chiefs said Friday they were “shocked” and “deeply disturbed” by the deaths and demanded an investigation.

“Shocked and repulsed by yesterday’s killing of innocent civilians in Gaza while desperately waiting for humanitarian aid,” European Council President Charles Michel posted on X.

Meanwhile, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said she was “deeply disturbed by images from Gaza” and added that “every effort must be made to investigate what happened”.

The White House also called the deaths “tremendously alarming”.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters the United States was “urgently seeking additional information on exactly what took place”.

Washington will be monitoring an upcoming investigation closely and “pressing for answers”, he said.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Friday also asked Israel to conduct a thorough investigation into the deaths.

“The Israeli army must fully investigate how the mass panic and shooting could have happened,” Baerbock wrote on X, formerly Twitter, also calling for a “humanitarian ceasefire”.

France, too, called for an independent inquiry into the deaths during aid delivery, Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said Friday.

China said on Friday it “strongly condemns” the killing of scores of Palestinians during an aid delivery in the northern Gaza Strip.

“China is shocked by this incident and strongly condemns it,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said.

Turkiye accused Israel of committing “another crime against humanity” and condemning Gazans to “famine” as civilians scavenge for dwindling supplies of food.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and urged Israel to protect the Palestinian population after the “tragic deaths”.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni also expressed her “deep dismay and concern” over the violence.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry condemned the deaths and reiterated “the need to reach an immediate ceasefire”.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2024

Header image: Palestinians who were wounded in Israeli fire while waiting for aid, according to health officials, lie on beds at Al Shifa hospital in Gaza City on March 1, 2024. — Reuters