Israel Palestine Conflict

Calls for probe, ceasefire follow Israeli gunfire near aid convoy in Gaza

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World leaders on Friday called for an investigation and a ceasefire nearly five months into the Gaza war, a day after dozens of desperate Palestinians were killed rushing an aid convoy.

Israeli troops opened fire as Palestinian civilians scrambled for food aid during a chaotic incident Thursday which the territory’s health ministry said killed more than 100 people in Gaza City.

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The deaths came after a World Food Program official had warned: “If nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza.”

The Israeli military said a “stampede” occurred when thousands of Gazans surrounded the convoy of 38 aid trucks, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries, including some who were run over.

An Israeli source acknowledged troops had opened fire on the crowd, believing it “posed a threat.”

Gaza’s health ministry called it a “massacre” and said 112 people were killed and more than 750 others wounded.

The fatalities helped push the total number of Palestinian war dead in Gaza to 30,228 mostly women and children, according to the ministry’s latest toll.

Overnight Thursday-Friday 83 people were killed in strikes, the ministry said.

The war began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, Israeli figures show.

Israel’s military says 242 soldiers have died in Gaza since ground operations began in late October.

Call for transparency

“The Israeli army must fully investigate how the mass panic and shooting could have happened,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock wrote on social media platform X.

Her French counterpart Stephane Sejourne said “there will have to be an independent probe to determine what happened,” and Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani urged Israel “to protect the people in Gaza and to rigorously ascertain facts and responsibilities.”

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, also writing on X, said “every effort must be made to investigate what happened and ensure transparency.”

The head of Libya’s Presidential Council, Mohamed el-Manfi, appealed for “an urgent investigation” by the United Nations Security Council into the “unprecedented crime.”

US President Joe Biden - whose country provides billions of dollars in military aid to Israel - said Washington was checking “two competing versions” of the incident.

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Aerial footage of the incident made clear “just how desperate the situation on the ground is,” a US State Department spokesman said. Washington was pushing Israel to allow in more aid, he said.

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