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'Crime against humanity': Countries slam Israel for killing over 100 Palestinians waiting for aid in Gaza

At least 112 people were killed and more than 700 wounded in the incident near Gaza City, according to health officials. However, Israel claimed that dozens were trampled and run over when they overwhelmed the aid trucks and denied any strike towards the people.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Gaza Updated on: March 01, 2024 18:16 IST
Israel Hamas war, Palestinians killed, world leaders
Image Source : REUTERS Palestinians attend Friday prayers near the ruins of a mosque destroyed in Israeli strikes.

Gaza: Deadly scenes marred the war-torn Gaza Strip as Israeli forces on Thursday shot dead more than 100 Palestinians as they waited for an aid delivery, according to health authorities in the Palestinian enclave. At least 112 people were killed and more than 700 wounded in the incident near Gaza City, but Israel said the victims had been trampled or run over.

This is the biggest loss of lives in weeks, and Hamas said the incident could jeopardise talks in Qatar aimed at securing a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages. US President Joe Biden also indicated the same, saying, "I know it will" when asked if he thought it would complicate ongoing talks. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was an "ugly massacre" by Israel, and French foreign ministry spokesperson Christophe Lemoine said Israel was responsible under international law for protecting aid distribution to civilians.

Medics in Gaza said they could not cope with the flood of serious injuries, which came as the death toll in nearly five months of war passed 30,000, according to Palestinian health authorities. Israel disputed the account provided by officials in Hamas-run Gaza, which has been bombarded by Israeli forces for months since the Palestinian militant group's deadly rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

United States

Responding to a question over the deadly shooting in Gaza, the White House called the events "tremendously alarming and of deep concern to us". Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Dalton said the event needs to be thoroughly investigated and Washington is in touch with Israeli authorities to gather more information.

"The President and the administration — certainly, we’ve expressed our concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza, the mounting humanitarian crisis there, the need to surge resources into Gaza to address the extreme civilian harms that are occurring there.  He’s been unequivocal about that," she added.

United Nations

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said the killing of over 100 people seeking humanitarian aid in Gaza was a situation that would require an effective independent investigation. Guterres said he was "shocked" by the latest episode in the war with Israel, adding that worsening geopolitical divides have "transformed the veto power into an effective instrument of paralysis of the action of the Security Council."

"I am totally convinced that we need a humanitarian ceasefire and we need the unconditional and immediate release of hostages and that we should have a Security Council able to achieve these objectives," Guterres said.

France

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday he was angered by the shooting of more than 100 Palestinians seeking humanitarian aid in Gaza and demanded "truth and justice" regarding the role of Israeli soldiers in the incident.

"Deep indignation at the images coming from Gaza where civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers. I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law," Macron said in a post on X.

Turkey

In a tersely-worded statement, Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Israel of committing a "crime against humanity" with the killing of Palestinians in Gaza City and said the country was intent on destroying the entire Palestinian population.

"The fact that Israel, which has been using starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza, is now targeting innocent civilians who are seeking life-saving aid is evidence of Israel's intention to destroy the entire Palestinian population. Israel must end its military operation in Gaza immediately," read the statement

Canada

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly on Thursday said the deaths of dozens of people waiting for an aid convoy in Gaza was "a nightmare" and called for an end to fighting in the enclave. "When it comes to what happened in Gaza today ... I must say I think this is a nightmare," Joly told reporters in Ottawa. "We need to make sure that international aid is sent into Gaza and that people are protected when they go and get that aid."

Qatar

Qatar, one of the negotiators of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, strongly condemned the "heinous massacre" by Israel and called for urgent international action to end the agression in Gaza Strip. "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stresses that the continuation of the occupation's brutal crimes as part of its brutal war on Gaza Strip, proves day after day the pressing need for urgent international action to immediately end this unprecedented aggression in recent history," it said.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns that the Israeli occupation's disregard for Palestinian lives, its repeated attempts to impose a fait accompli policy and strip Palestinian rights guaranteed by international law, will ultimately undermine international efforts aimed at implementing the two-state solution, and thus pave the way for the expansion of the cycle of violence in the region and threaten international peace and security," the statement further read.

European Union

The European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said he was horrified by "yet another carnage" among civilians in Gaza and called their deaths "totally unacceptable". "Depriving people of food aid constitutes a serious violation of IHL. Unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza must be granted," he added on X.

Italy and Spain

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani pressed for an immediate ceasefire to facilitate more humanitarian aid, the release of hostages and the protection of civilians. "We strongly ask Israel to protect the population in Gaza and to rigorously ascertain facts and responsibilities," he said on X.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares also echoed the sentiments, saying, "The unacceptable nature of what happened in Gaza, with dozens of Palestinian civilians killed while waiting for food, underlines the urgency of a ceasefire. Humanitarian aid must be able to enter without obstacles. Compliance with international humanitarian law is mandatory."

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | Israeli firing on Palestinians waiting for food will complicate ceasefire talks: Biden | WATCH

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