Pressure mounts for inquiry into Israeli troops firing on Gazans waiting for aid

France and Germany call for investigation into incident in which more than 100 people were killed, according to Gaza health authorities

Pressure mounted on Israel on Friday over the deaths of Palestinians queuing for aid in an incident during which its soldiers fired at the crowd, with several countries backing a UN call for an inquiry.

Gaza health authorities said Israeli forces killed more than 100 people trying to reach a relief convoy near Gaza City early on Thursday, with famine looming nearly five months into the war that began with a Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7th.

Israel blamed most of the deaths on crowds that swarmed around aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over. An Israeli official also said troops had “in a limited response” later fired on crowds they felt had posed a threat.

The incident has underscored the collapse of orderly aid deliveries in areas of Gaza occupied by Israeli forces with no administration in place and the main UN agency, Unrwa, hamstrung by an inquiry into alleged links with Hamas.


The Hamas-led attack on October 7th killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and involved the seizure of 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s military campaign has since killed more than 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say.

With a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza, many countries have urged a ceasefire, but US president Joe Biden said Thursday’s incident will complicate talks for a deal involving a truce and hostage release.

France and Germany have backed a call for an international inquiry. The US has also urged an inquiry. India said it was “deeply shocked” at the deaths and Brazil said the incident was beyond “ethical or legal limits”. South Africa, which has brought a genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, condemned the deaths. Israel denies genocide.

French president Emmanuel Macron voiced “deep indignation” and the “strongest condemnation of these shootings”. Germany said “the Israeli army must fully explain how the mass panic and shooting could have happened”.

In Israel, ultra-rightwing security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir urged “total support” to Israeli soldiers who had “acted excellently against a Gazan mob that tried to harm them”.

However, an opinion piece on the Israeli N12 online news site said the incident showed the lack of any civil administration or rule of law in Gaza, and that this “may place Israel in a difficult position in terms of legitimacy for continuing the fighting”.

A columnist in Israel’s biggest daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth said the incident would “create a turning point in the war” and could “exert international pressure that Israel will not be able to withstand, including from the White House”.

A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in the Gaza Strip, particularly the north, after nearly five months of an Israeli air and ground campaign that has ruined swathes of the crowded coastal enclave and pushed it to the edge of famine.

With people eating animal feed and even cactuses to survive, and with medics saying children are dying in hospitals from malnutrition and dehydration, the UN has said it faces “overwhelming obstacles” getting in aid.

The UN humanitarian agency OCHA said obstacles included “crossing closures, restrictions on movement and communications, onerous vetting procedures, unrest, damaged roads and unexploded ordnance”.

Last week the UN said aid flows into Gaza were drying up and it was becoming increasingly hard to distribute aid within the enclave because of a collapse in security, with most residents hemmed into makeshift camps.

Israel has said there is no limit on humanitarian aid in Gaza and has said the quantity and pace of delivery was down to the UN.

Israel’s military said Thursday’s delivery was operated by private contractors as part of an aid operation it had been overseeing for the previous four days. OCHA spokesperson Jens Laerke said the delivery was made without any co-ordination with the UN. – Reuters