Israel blames Palestinians for Gaza aid convoy deaths

Aprilia Rine

Israel blames Palestinians for Gaza aid convoy deaths

The IDF has claimed that its troops only opened fire to protect themselves from the hungry crowd

Most of the Palestinians killed when troops opened fire at a crowd massed near an aid convoy in the Gaza Strip died as a result of a stampede – not from gunshots, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has claimed.

“The IDF has concluded an initial review of the unfortunate incident where Gazan civilians were trampled to death and injured as they charged to the aid convoy,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari said on Sunday in a statement. “Our initial review has confirmed that no strike was carried out by the IDF toward the aid convoy.”

The statement came amid international outcry over the deaths of more than 100 people and the wounding of 750 others as hungry civilians waited to receive food aid in the besieged Palestinian enclave on Thursday. Gaza health authorities accused Israeli troops of an “unprovoked attack” on civilians, and UN investigators reported a “large number of gunshot wounds.”

Hagari essentially reiterated the claims he made before the IDF investigation, saying troops were facilitating an aid delivery and fired warning shots as civilians charged toward the humanitarian convoy at the sight of the trucks. “The majority of Palestinians were killed or injured as the result of the stampede,” he said.

After firing warning shots to disperse the crowd, IDF soldiers started retreating, the spokesman claimed. At that point, he added, “several looters approached our forces and posed an immediate threat to them. According to the initial review, the soldiers responded toward several individuals.”

Thursday’s incident will be further investigated by Israel’s “independent” Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism (FFAM) to help prevent such tragedies in the future, Hagari said. “Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza,” he insisted. “This is why we are facilitating aid, creating humanitarian corridors, establishing unilateral humanitarian pauses, and exercising caution in our use of force.”

100+ killed as Israeli troops open fire on hungry crowd in Gaza – Hamas (VIDEO)

More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began in October, and the UN has estimated that 570,000 people are starving. Hamas triggered the conflict by launching surprise raids on southern Israeli villages, killing over 1,100 people and taking hundreds of hostages back to Gaza.

Israel’s government has vowed to eliminate Hamas and has blamed the group for putting Gazans in harm’s way by launching and coordinating attacks from civilian areas. Hamas has governed the enclave since 2007.

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