When Israeli soldiers shot at hungry Palestinians

Hungry Palestinians crowd desperately around two aid trucks
Starving Palestinians carrying bags of flour from an aid truck in Gaza City, February 19, 2024 [Kosay Al Nemer/Reuters]
Starving Palestinians carrying bags of flour from an aid truck in Gaza City, February 19, 2024 [Kosay Al Nemer/Reuters]

Gaza, occupied East Jerusalem, and Tunis, Tunisia - It has been five days since the Israeli army fired into a crowd of the hungry and the starving at al-Rashid Street in Gaza City, an incident that has been dubbed the Flour Massacre.

However, for the families of the 118 civilians killed by Israel during the early hours of Thursday morning, it is the moment their lives would forever be divided into before and after.

Thursday's massacre has been followed by two subsequent killings by Israeli forces of hungry Palestinians scrambling for aid, on Saturday and Monday night, adding to the mounting death toll among the uncounted and malnourished thousands battling the first signs of starvation.

When word went around that a convoy would be coming to Gaza City, thousands headed out to camp on the street and wait for it along its expected route.

After weeks of blockade, Gaza’s hunger was - and remains - so extreme that the convoy had to stop as thousands of people gathered, clambering up the sides of the truck to try to grab any amount of flour to take home to their starving families.

According to the Israeli army, the convoy contained 30 trucks - witnesses put the number at about 18 - overlooked by several Israeli military vehicles, including tanks.

In the early hours of Thursday morning, as thousands of malnourished Palestinians tried to claw their way to some food, the soldiers opened fire.

According to Al Jazeera’s Ismail al-Ghoul, who was at the scene, the firing took place in two bursts, the first as people seized the goods and the second when the crowd returned to the trucks.

“After opening fire, Israeli tanks advanced and ran over many of the dead and injured bodies,” he said.

By the time the shooting died down, dozens of people had been killed and hundreds injured.

Accounts of what led the Israeli forces to fire vary and Israel claims that many Palestinians died in the stampede for food, not because they were shot.

Accounts from the thousands of Palestinians who were there are clearer: Israeli forces fired indiscriminately into the crowd which killed dozens of people and led to a stampede in which more people died.

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Source: Al Jazeera