Israel Refutes Hamas’ Assertion of 20 Gazans Killed While Seeking Aid

On Friday, Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry reported that Israeli shooting killed 20 civilians and injured 155 others who were waiting for badly needed relief in the beleaguered enclave, while Israel denied the accusations as “erroneous.”

With the United Nations warning of a potential famine in Gaza, which is encircled by Israel following Hamas militants’ attack on October 7, a Spanish relief ship went closer to the Gaza Strip, opening a maritime corridor from Cyprus.

Efforts to deliver food and other help to Gaza have increased, including by air and sea, but fighting continues after negotiators failed to achieve a truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The health ministry in Gaza accused Israeli troops of firing fire from “tanks and helicopters” as Palestinians gathered at a roundabout in northern Gaza City, revising an original death toll of 11 and 100 wounded.

Mohammed Ghurab, head of emergency services at a hospital in northern Gaza, told AFP that there were “direct shots by the occupation forces” on Palestinians waiting for a food truck.

An AFP journalist on the scene noticed multiple bodies and others who had been shot.

The Israeli military denied it had opened fire on the crowd.

“Press reports that Israeli forces attacked dozens of Gazans at an aid distribution point are erroneous,” it said in a brief statement, adding that it was “analyzing the incident seriously”.

‘No alternative’ 

Because of limited land access to Gaza via Jordan, Israel, and Egypt, several countries have had to rely on airdrops and marine channels to provide aid.

The Spanish charity vessel Open Arms, which was carrying approximately 200 tonnes of food supplied by the US NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK), was roughly 30 kilometers (20 miles) off Gaza, according to the MarineTraffic website, after leaving Cyprus three days earlier.

A WCK crew in Gaza has constructed a floating jetty onto which cargo heading for northern Gaza can be unloaded. The group’s president, Erin Gore, stated that they intended to discharge approximately 300,000 meals as soon as possible.

“We all know it isn’t enough…” That is why we need to open this channel with a steady flow of boats,” Gore added.

Cyprus has stated that a second, larger vessel is being prepared for the maritime humanitarian corridor, which would be supplemented by a temporary pier built off Gaza by US forces.

However, 25 organisations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, stated that air and sea missions are “no alternative” to land delivery.

Many Palestinians in northern Gaza, including Mokhles al-Masry, a displaced 27-year-old, were searching the skies for signs of an aid drop due to severe shortages.

“There is no food for our children. We couldn’t even find a bottle of infant milk. “We’ve been wandering around since early morning, hoping that a plane would drop parachutes,” he explained.

According to Amnesty’s secretary-general, Agnes Callamard, the decision to build the pier indicates that the world community accepts the war’s continuation.

Netanyahu doubles down 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defied international criticism and reiterated his plan to launch a ground attack on Rafah in the south, where the majority of Gaza’s 2.4 million people have taken refuge.

During a visit to a field intelligence base, Netanyahu stated, “We will continue to repel the pressures and enter Rafah and bring complete victory to the people of Israel.”

Around 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah and other areas along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt.

According to Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari, a “significant” number of them will need to be relocated “to a humanitarian island that we will create with the international community”.

‘Qatari pressure on Hamas’

According to an AFP calculation of official numbers, Hamas’ attack on October 7 killed approximately 1,160 people, the majority of whom were civilians.

In return, Israel has launched a continuous campaign of airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza, killing at least 31,341 people, the majority of them are civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Hamas terrorists also kidnapped over 250 Israeli and foreign hostages, many of whom were released during a week-long truce in November.Israel claims that approximately 130 detainees remain in Gaza, with 32 dead.

In a show of growing US dissatisfaction with Netanyahu, US Senate leader Chuck Schumer called for a hasty election in Israel, citing the experienced hawk as one of several “major obstacles” to a two-state solution and peace.

Washington and other governments have urged a reconstituted Palestinian Authority to seize control of all Palestinian territory following the war.

The White House praised Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’ choice of Mohammed Mustafa, a long-time economic adviser, as prime minister three weeks after his predecessor quit.

Thousands of security guards were stationed in Jerusalem on Friday, ahead of the first large prayer sessions since Ramadan began.

US, Egyptian, and Qatari mediators were unable to reach a new truce in time for Ramadan, but Netanyahu stated on Thursday that there is now “Qatari pressure on Hamas,” which he described as “clinging to unacceptable demands.”

“As of this moment, there has been no real response from Hamas,” he told hostage families.

The war has caused acute shortages of medical supplies throughout Gaza, with only a handful of facilities partially operational.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announced that help had been delivered to Al-Aqsa hospital in central Gaza, which he described as “struggling with water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management”.


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