France, Germany back UN call for probe into deadly Gaza incident near aid delivery

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Pressure mounted on Israel on Friday over the deaths of Palestinians queuing for aid in an incident during which its soldiers fired at the crowd, with several countries backing a United Nations call for an inquiry.

Gaza health authorities said Israeli forces shot dead at least 112 Palestinians as they waited for an aid delivery, but Israel blamed the deaths on crowds that surrounded aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he was angered by the incident and demanded “truth and justice” regarding the role of Israeli soldiers in Thursday’s 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.

He said it was imperative for an immediate ceasefire in the war to be put in place.

A woman in a headscarf is shown in the foreground carrying a covered baby in her arms. An ambulance and several others are shown in the background.
A woman carrying a baby rushes to the emergency ward of the Shuhada al-Aqsa hospital in Al-Zawayda in the central Gaza Strip, on Friday amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant Palestinian Hamas group. (AFP/Getty Images)

UN Secretary General António Guterres on Thursday said it was a situation that would require an effective independent investigation.

Guterres said he was “shocked” by the latest episode in the war with Israel, in which Palestinian authorities say over 30,000 civilians have been killed since Oct. 7 as the Israeli military has bombarded the enclave. The response came after Hamas-led attacks inside Israel that killed about 1,200 people, including several Canadian citizens.

France and Germany have backed a call for an international inquiry. Germany said “the Israeli army must fully explain how the mass panic and shooting could have happened.”

Brazil joined France’s call for a ceasefire. South Africa, which has brought a genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, condemned the deaths, with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan among those condemning Israeli forces

LISTEN | Hear BBC reporter Paul Adams describe deadly scene near convoy: 

As It Happens6:29Deadly scene near aid convoy in Gaza ‘powerful illustration of despair,’ says reporter

Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a briefing late Thursday that dozens had been trampled to death or injured in a fight to take supplies off the trucks. He said tanks escorting the trucks had subsequently fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and backed away when events began to get out of hand.

“No IDF strike was conducted towards the aid convoy,” he said. “The IDF was there conducting a humanitarian operation to secure the humanitarian corridor and allow the aid convoy to reach its designated distribution point.”

The U.S. State Department said it was urgently seeking information on the incident.

Biden says U.S. will airdrop aid into Gaza

President Joe Biden said Friday that the U.S. will begin air-dropping humanitarian assistance into Gaza. 

Biden said the airdrops would begin soon, and that the United States was looking into additional ways to facilitate getting badly needed aid into the war-battered territory to ease the suffering of Palestinians.

“In the coming days, we’re going to join with our friends in Jordan and others who are providing airdrops of additional food and supplies” and will “seek to open up other avenues in, including possibly a marine corridor,” Biden said.

Biden made the announcement while hosting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the White house.

“Aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere nearly enough,” Biden said. “Innocent lives are on the line and children’s lives are on the line. We won’t stand by until we get more aid in there. We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several.”

The White House, State Department and Pentagon had been weighing the merits of U.S. military airdrops of assistance for several months, but had held off due to concerns that the method is inefficient, has no way of ensuring the aid gets to civilians in need and cannot make up for overland aid deliveries.

The Canadian government will also begin airdropping aid into Gaza within the next week, a government source told CBC News earlier this week.

At least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip — one quarter of the enclave’s population — are one step away from famine, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

With people eating animal feed and even cactuses to survive, and with medical staff saying children are dying in hospitals from malnutrition and dehydration, the UN has said it faces “overwhelming obstacles” getting in aid.

Aid parcel attached to a parachute about to land over an urban area in Gaza, with ocean in view.
Aid is airdropped over Rafah, in southern Gaza, on Feb. 26 amid the ongoing the conflict between Israel and Hamas. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

David Deptula, a retired U.S. Air Force three-star general who once commanded the no-fly zone over northern Iraq, said air drops are something the U.S. military can effectively execute.

“It is something that’s right up their mission alley,” Deptula told Reuters.

“There are a lot of detailed challenges. But there’s nothing insurmountable.”

Aid funded by the United Kingdom was recently dropped to a hospital in northern Gaza.

The Netherlands and France also have been involved in airdrop operations.

Jordan has dropped aid to a field hospital it runs in Gaza several times since the beginning of the conflict. Israel approved and co-ordinated with a Jordanian drop in November, according to Reuters.

WATCHSeveral countries backing a UN call for a inquiry into deadly aid incident:

International outcry after deadly Gaza aid convoy incident

Pressure is mounting on Israel over the deaths of Palestinians lining up for aid in an incident during which its soldiers fired at the crowd. Several countries are backing a UN call for an inquiry.

EU redirects Palestinian aid

Meanwhile, the European Commission said in a statement that it would allocate an additional 68 million euros “to support the Palestinian population across the region to be implemented through international partners like the Red Cross and the Red Crescent.” The amount is equivalent to nearly $100 million Cdn.

Two boys are shown near bombed out vehicles and rubble in an urban setting.
Children stand near a damaged vehicle at the site of an Israeli strike on a house, on Friday in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters)

“We stand by the Palestinian people in Gaza and elsewhere in the region. Innocent Palestinians should not have to pay the price for the crimes of terrorist group Hamas,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“They face terrible conditions putting their lives at risk because of lack of access to sufficient food and other basic needs. That is why we are reinforcing our support to them this year by a further 68 million euros.”

Concurrently, the commission said it would hold back part of a payment of 82 million euros for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).

WATCH l Injured boy with Canadian relatives describes ordeal: 

He was rescued from rubble in Gaza — family in Canada are desperately trying to help

Yahya Hamad, 9, was asleep when the building he was in was hit by a bomb. Someone spotted him and pulled him from the rubble, but his parents and siblings died.

UNRWA provides aid and basic services to Palestinians caught up in the war in Gaza but was thrown into crisis after Israel alleged in January that 12 of the agency’s 13,000 staff in the enclave were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. UNRWA dismissed all the accused staff following the allegations.

But many major donors, including the U.S., Britain and several European Union countries, suspended payments to the agency or said they would not approve new funding until the matter was resolved.

As well as dismissing the accused staff, the UN launched an investigation into the allegations and also commissioned a review of UNRWA’s adherence to neutrality.

In a statement on Jan. 29, the European Commission said an audit was necessary examining how the agency prevents the involvement of staff in terrorist activities, a strengthening of its internal investigation unit and a review to confirm that no staff took part in the Oct. 7 attacks.



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