'Firing on crowd in Gaza, 112 dead'. The US demands answers

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'Firing on crowd in Gaza, 112 dead'. The US demands answers

A new massacre took place in Gaza on the 145th day of the war, but the versions of Hamas and Israel diverge. The Islamic faction denounced the killing in the north of the Strip of 112 Palestinians – and the wounding of 760 others – at whom the Israeli army allegedly shot while they were “in line to receive humanitarian aid”. An accusation that the IDF forcefully rejected, speaking of two separate episodes, which occurred hundreds of meters from each other, in the first of which “the crush caused by the crowd caused most of the deaths”.

The UN Security Council will meet behind closed doors for urgent consultations on the situation in Gaza at 4.15 pm local time, 10.15 pm Italian time. The UN announced this, while international reactions multiplied. A White House National Security Council spokesperson said the United States considered the shooting in Gaza to be a “serious incident.” “We mourn the loss of innocent human lives and recognize the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, where innocent Palestinians are only trying to feed their families,” the spokesperson said.

Later, President Joe Biden said his government was examining various “contradictory” versions of the shooting. To those who asked him if he expected a ceasefire on Monday, Biden replied: “Hope is the last thing to die” but it is “probable that there won't be one” on Monday. Asked about the shooting of a crowd in Gaza, the president said he was aware that the incident could have effects on negotiations for the release of the hostages and specified that the United States was examining “contradictory versions” of the incident.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. He said for his part that the United States is demanding “answers” from Israel about what happened in Gaza, stressing that it is trying to obtain information and is monitoring Israel's investigation into the incident. Miller stressed that the government considers the situation in the Strip to be “desperate” and asks Israel to “protect” the distribution of aid.

Asked about Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin's comment that 25,000 women and children have died in Gaza since the war began, the spokesman said that “whatever the number of civilian deaths is, it is too high.” Miller provided no other estimates of civilian casualties and deferred to the Defense Department for clarification. The Pentagon said the number offered by Austin was based on estimates from the Hamas-controlled Health Ministry

Hamas has warned that today's gunfire in Gaza could lead to the failure of truce talks and the release of hostages. “The negotiations conducted by the movement's leadership are not an open process at the expense of the blood of our people,” reads a statement from the Islamist group, which states that Israel would be responsible for any failure of the talks. Hamas also said that the death toll could rise further, as many bodies have yet to be recovered.

For its part, the office of Abu Mazen, president of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), defined the episode as “a despicable massacre carried out by the Israeli occupation army, for which the occupation government bears full responsibility”. This was echoed by the Egyptian government, which in a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “strongly condemns Israel's inhuman attack against defenseless Palestinian civilians who were waiting for the arrival of trucks of humanitarian aid north of the Gaza Strip, and which led to a large number of casualties and injuries”

The attack, the note continues, represents “a clear violation of the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, as well as a total contempt for the value of the human person”.

In Italy, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni issued a note in which she wrote: “I learned with deep dismay and concern the dramatic news of what happened today in Gaza. It is urgent for Israel to ascertain the dynamics of the facts and the related responsibilities. The new and numerous civilian victims require us to immediately intensify efforts on the ongoing negotiations to create the conditions for a ceasefire and the release of the hostages.”

And the Italian deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Antonio Tajani, wrote on to protect the population in Gaza and to rigorously ascertain facts and responsibilities”.

On the other hand, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres “condemned” the massacre in Gaza aid, and reiterated his “call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages”. This was stated by the spokesperson of the Glass Palace, Stephane Dujarric. Guterres once again calls for “urgent measures so that humanitarian aid can reach in and through Gaza to all those who need it.” The secretary general is “shocked by the tragic human toll of the conflict in Gaza”. The UN secretary then underlined that “the desperate civilians of Gaza need urgent help, including those in the besieged north where the United Nations has been unable to provide aid for more than a week”

Israel, 'The crowd looted the aid, it was a threat

According to the Israeli military spokesman, the soldiers opened fire after “during the entry of aid trucks into northern Gaza, residents surrounded the trucks”, whose transit the Israelis were ensuring, and “looted the supplies”. .

“In the accident – he underlined – dozens of people were trampled in the crowd”. Military sources report that the soldiers “fired at those who had surrounded the trucks” and that the crowd “crowded in such a way as to pose a threat to the troops”.

According to Israel, soldiers are not responsible for most of the casualties recorded today in Gaza. Military spokesman Peter Lerner said this, explaining that two separate incidents occurred, hundreds of meters apart. “At 4am a convoy of 30 aid trucks passed the army checkpoint in Wadi Gaza and was later surrounded by thousands of people. The crowd spiraled out of control and dozens of people were injured or killed in the crowd, others were hit by trucks.” The soldiers opened fire only in the second episode, “feeling threatened by dozens of civilians”

Additionally, the Israeli military released an aerial surveillance video of the incident. According to the Israeli military, “the video shows how many people surrounded the trucks and, as a result, dozens were killed and injured from being pushed, trampled and run over by the trucks.” The army said it would continue assistance in the transportation of humanitarian aid.

Lerner said that these incidents occurred despite efforts undertaken by Israel, including in recent days ''with hundreds of trucks'', to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to the northern Gaza Strip.

The convoy in question had passed through the Israeli Kerem Shalom crossing, had gone north along the coastal road of Gaza and ''the last of the trucks had passed'' the army checkpoint (between the southern and northern sectors of Gaza) when, several hundred meters away, a crowd arose in which numerous people lost their lives. The officer added that eight trucks from that convoy also managed to proceed north, ''but found themselves exposed to fire from people from Gaza, were looted and damaged''.

The second accident, according to Lerner, was ''much more limited''. After the convoy had passed, dozens of people gathered around the army post. ''Being a war zone, the military fired warning shots in the air and then in the direction of those who refused to leave''. ''The army is continuing to investigate these incidents,'' the officer concluded.

Ben Gvir, 'stop the supply of humanitarian aid to Gaza'

The delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians facilitated by the Israeli army puts soldiers in danger. This was said by Israeli National Security Minister and radical right leader Itamar Ben Gvir, referring to the incident north of Gaza

“Today – he added – it has been proven that the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza is not only madness while our hostages are held in the Strip, but also harms the army soldiers”. The incident – according to Ben Gvir – “is another clear reason why we must stop the transfer of
this aid.”

Sinwar, 'The Israelis are where we want them'

The leader of Hamas in Gaza, Yaya Sinwar, appears again with a message delivered earlier this month by a courier to a meeting of the Hamas leadership in exile in Doha, reassuring that the Israeli attacks were not eliminating all the fighters.

“Don't worry, we have the Israelis right where we want them,” says Sinwar – as reported by the Wall Street Journal – adding that the Hamas leader in Gaza explained that the Al-Qassam Brigades were doing well. According to WSJ sources, Sinwar added that a high number of civilian casualties increases global pressure on Israel to stop the war.

Humanitarian aid packages launched towards Gaza have fallen into Israel

Packages of humanitarian aid, launched today from a Jordanian plane towards the north of the Gaza Strip, were carried by the wind and fell on Israeli territory. The military radio reported it, later reassuring the population that they ''don't represent any danger''.

The public broadcaster Kan meanwhile noted that today is the fourth consecutive day that planes from countries friendly to Israel have conducted aid drops towards the Gaza Strip. So far, the broadcaster added, those launches had affected the south of the Strip, in the area between Khan Yunis and Rafah. Today they were launched in the northern sector, in Jabalya and at the Indonesia hospital.

The White House is also considering dropping aid into Gaza by plane as land deliveries become increasingly difficult. “The situation is really serious. We need extreme measures such as airdrops,” an official source said, quoted by American media. However, officials admit, airborne aid is limited because a military jet can only drop as much supplies as one or two trucks can carry. So they can be used in an emergency but, the sources underline, the only way to send assistance to Gaza is by land.

Netanyahu, 'We don't know if there will be an agreement with Hamas'

“It still cannot be said whether we will reach an agreement in the next few days but we certainly will not accept Hamas's imaginative demands.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this, according to which Israel has not yet received the list of hostages from Hamas who would be part of the agreement.

“We will recover all the hostages – he added – with or without an agreement. The calls to end the war before having achieved the objectives we have established – he added referring to international pressure – cannot be accepted. As prime minister I must also guarantee national interests if that means going against the grain.”

Reproduction reserved © Copyright ANSA

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