Chaotic scenes, deadly violence at aid distribution points as hunger grips Gaza

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The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza accused Israeli forces of launching an attack near an aid distribution point in war-racked northern Gaza, killing 20 people and wounding 155 others.

The Israeli military said those reports “are false.” 

“As the IDF [Israeli Defence Forces] assesses the incident with the thoroughness that it deserves, we urge the media to do the same and only rely on credible information,” the military said in a statement.

The violence occurred late Thursday near the Kuwaiti roundabout, which has been a point for the distribution of aid in north Gaza over the past weeks.

The Health Ministry said a group waiting there for aid was hit by Israeli shelling.

The United Nations says one-quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million people face starvation, many of them in the isolated north, the largely devastated target of Israel’s initial offensive in Gaza.

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The war in Gaza began on Oct. 7 when Hamas fighters attacked Israel, killing 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s air and ground campaign has since killed more than 31,000 Palestinians according to Gaza health authorities, while driving most of the population from their homes and pushing the enclave toward famine.

Chaotic scenes and deadly incidents have taken place during aid distributions as desperately hungry people scramble for food.

Airstrike hit aid centre, Health Ministry says

In another Thursday incident, Palestinian health officials said, eight people were killed in an airstrike on an aid distribution centre in Al-Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip.

Last month, bloodshed surrounding an aid convoy killed more than 100 Palestinians in northern Gaza. In that incident on Feb. 29, the Israeli military said some of its forces fired at people in the crowd who were advancing toward them. Witnesses and hospital officials said many of the casualties were from bullet wounds.

The Israeli military said many of the casualties were caused by a stampede over the food and people being run over by aid trucks.

Following the Feb. 29 violence, the United States announced plans to build a temporary pier in Gaza to bring in food by sea and joined with other countries to airdrop food into the isolated north. 

The U.S. military said earlier this week the pier will be ready in about 60 days and will allow for the delivery of up to two million meals a day.

A red and white ship near the horizon pulls something behind it in sunny conditions and calm waters. Two people stand on something in the water nearer the camera.
A ship belonging to the Open Arms aid group approaches the shores of Gaza towing a barge with 200 tonnes of humanitarian aid on Friday. (Abdel Kareem Hana/The Associated Press)

A ship towing a barge loaded with food arrived off the coast of Gaza on Friday, witnesses said, as a test run for a new aid route by sea from Cyprus.

The ship, arranged by the World Central Kitchen charity, is carrying nearly 200 tonnes of aid to be delivered via a jetty separate from the U.S. pier.

There are few details on how the aid delivery and distribution will work once it is ready to unload in Gaza, with UN relief agencies having described huge obstacles to getting relief supplies to those in need.

A second ship is expected to sail soon.

A figure is silhouetted against a large, open door of an airplane in flight. A coastline and water can be seen below.
A member of the U.S. Air force collects cables following an aid drop over Gaza Thursday. (Leo Correa/The Associated Press)

While welcoming aid ships, Palestinian and UN officials say maritime deliveries are not a substitute for sending aid through land crossings, most of which are completely sealed off by Israel.

Israel says it is not to blame for Gaza’s hunger, as it is allowing aid through two crossings at the southern edge of the territory. Aid agencies say that is not enough to get sufficient supplies through, particularly to the northern part of the enclave.

Efforts to reach a ceasefire between Israel and the Islamist militant Hamas have so far failed. While Israel said it sought a deal that would secure the release of hostages in Gaza in exchange for the release of Palestinians held by Israel, Hamas insists an agreement should end the war.

Late on Thursday, Hamas said it presented to mediators a comprehensive vision of a truce deal based on stopping what it calls Israeli aggression against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, providing relief and aid, the return of displaced Gazans to their homes and the withdrawal of Israeli forces.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the new Hamas position was based on “unrealistic demands.”



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