Israel and Hamas at war, day 176 | Stampede and fatal shooting during food distribution in Gaza

Five Palestinians died Saturday morning, including three who succumbed to gunfire, during a food distribution that turned into chaos in the besieged and famine-threatened Gaza Strip, where Israeli bombardments as well as clashes between the army and Hamas continue.




Nearly six months after the start of the war, triggered by an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against Israel, the Israeli army has carried out new raids on the Gaza Strip, killing at least 82 people in the last 24 hours, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

A sign of the desperate humanitarian situation, the Palestinian Red Crescent reported five deaths, three having succumbed to gunfire, and 30 injured on Saturday at dawn in Gaza City, following a huge stampede during a distribution of food aid, at the Kuwait roundabout.

Videos filmed by AFP show trucks honking their horns and moving forward in the dark, in the middle of rubbish fires, while shots ring out all around, on this roundabout, the scene of previous similar incidents in recent weeks.

Several seconds of chaos ensue, while ambulances with screaming sirens try to make their way between the rubble of buildings and the mountains of garbage that litter the streets disfigured by the war.

According to testimonies collected by AFP, members of “popular protection committees”, responsible for supervising the distribution, fired into the air, injuring several people, while the trucks ran over others. At the same time, Israeli tanks positioned a few hundred meters away were firing.

Contacted by AFP, the Israeli army indicated that it had “no trace of the incident”.

“Not enough food”

A few days ago, 18 Palestinians died, including 12 drowned at sea, while desperately trying to recover food parachuted into the narrow strip of land. Each time, the modus operandi is the same. On the ground, residents observe the parachuted packages and rush when they land, causing stampedes.

PHOTO HUSSEIN MALLA, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Humanitarian aid is dropped into the Gaza Strip from a US Air Force C-17 plane on March 29.

The majority of the 2.4 million inhabitants are threatened with famine, UN agencies have been warning, in vain, for weeks. Strictly controlled by Israel, humanitarian aid enters the Palestinian territory, where Hamas took power in 2007.

“We don’t have enough food and water,” Amany, 44, a Palestinian mother of seven, who found refuge in the Chati camp, told AFP on Friday.

On Thursday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest judicial body of the UN, ordered Israel to provide “urgent humanitarian aid” to Gaza, in the face of “an emerging famine”.

Israel must “allow UNRWA to reach the north of the Gaza Strip with food convoys (…) daily and to open other land crossing points,” insisted the head of the Gaza Strip Agency. United Nations for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini.

Israel, for its part, says it is not involved in the distribution of food in Gaza, accusing UN agencies of being incapable of managing the amount of aid that arrives there every day.

PHOTO MOHAMMED ABED, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A Palestinian woman and a girl sit on a beach next to a makeshift camp for displaced people in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 30.

The war was sparked on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an attack in southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of at least 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally. based on official Israeli data.

According to Israel, around 250 people were also kidnapped and 130 of them are still hostages, including 34 who died in Gaza. Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union, and launched an offensive, first by air, then by land, on Palestinian territory.

More than 32,000 dead

In total, more than 32,705 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli retaliatory offensive, according to the Hamas health ministry.

While negotiations to reach a truce seemed to be at an impasse, with both camps accusing each other of being at the origin of the blockage, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that he had “approved a next round of negotiations, in the days to come, in Doha and Cairo (…) to move forward,” according to his office.

In recent months, several negotiation sessions have taken place via international mediators – Egypt, Qatar, United States – but without result. Since the start of the war, only one week-long truce has been established at the end of November. It allowed the release of around a hundred hostages kidnapped during the October 7 attack in exchange for Palestinian prisoners incarcerated by Israel.

In the meantime, airstrikes and ground fighting continue despite the passing of a UN Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire.

PHOTO AMIR COHEN, REUTERS

An Israeli tank along the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel on March 30

On Saturday, the Israeli army said it had struck dozens of targets in central Gaza. The Hamas press office, for its part, affirmed that certain strikes targeted “dwellings”, also reporting artillery fire in Gaza City and in the south of the small, overpopulated territory.

The Israeli army, which accuses Hamas fighters of hiding in hospitals, announced on Saturday that it would continue, for the 13e consecutive day, its “operations” in and around the largest al-Chifa hospital complex in Gaza City (North).

According to Hamas, Israeli troops are also present at Nasser hospital and Al-Amal hospital, both located in the town of Khan Younes (South).

Mr. Netanyahu says he is determined to launch a ground offensive further south, in Rafah, where there are 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority displaced by the violence, despite international pressure, including American pressure.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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