Israeli troops fire on crowds seeking aid as Gaza officials say dozens killed

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Dozens of people were killed in northern Gaza on Thursday after the Israeli military opened fire on Palestinians rushing towards trucks carrying food but said some had died in a crush to reach the supplies.

It was not immediately clear how many people were killed by Israeli forces. Local health authorities in the Hamas-controlled strip said at least 104 people were killed in the incident and hundreds more injured.

The Israel Defense Forces said that “dozens were killed and injured from pushing, trampling and being run over by the [aid] trucks”.

A person briefed on the situation said Israeli forces had fired on crowds after troops accompanying the aid felt threatened by the manner in which a “crowd approached the forces . . . who responded to the threat with live fire”. 

The IDF said it was reviewing the incident and released drone footage it said was from the scene, showing hundreds of people rushing towards trucks carrying supplies.

Hebrew media said a preliminary IDF investigation found that its forces had hit no more than 10 people, most in the legs.

Dr Eid Sabbah, head of nursing at Kamal Adwan hospital in north Gaza, told Al Jazeera that people had arrived at the hospital with injuries to their limbs, heads, chests and abdomens.

“The injured are lying on the floors of the reception area and we are [using] the minimal materials we have,” said Sabbah. “We have no fuel, medical supplies or medicines. We don’t have enough anaesthesia for everyone. Doctors are performing triage to decide which cases can be saved.”

The channel showed images of dozens of bodies on the street and carried on donkey carts. Funeral prayers were said in front of an open-bed truck loaded with bodies.

Aid deliveries within Gaza have become increasingly precarious as acute food shortages, combined with the absence of a functioning police force, have resulted in widespread looting of the few trucks that manage to enter the besieged enclave. 

Israeli forces opened fire on a UN convoy as early as this February, the UN said in a letter to the IDF seen by the Financial Times. They have also carried out at least one air strike on Palestinian police guarding a convoy in southern Gaza.

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