UN’s Guterres ‘shocked’ as Gaza officials say more than 100 killed after Israeli soldiers fire on crowds seeking aid

Israel says many of the victims were crushed in a stampede or were run over by aid trucks

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the killing of more than 100 people seeking humanitarian aid in Gaza was a situation that would require an effective independent investigation.

Speaking in St Vincent and the Grenadines ahead of a regional summit, Mr Guterres said he was “shocked” by the latest episode in the war with Israel, in which Palestinian authorities say over 30,000 civilians have been killed since October 7th.

Responding to questions on the failure of a recent UN Security Council resolution seeking a ceasefire, Mr Guterres said worsening geopolitical divides have “transformed the veto power into an effective instrument of paralysis of the action of the Security Council.”

“I am totally convinced that we need a humanitarian ceasefire and we need the unconditional and immediate release of hostages and that we should have a Security Council able to achieve these objectives,” Mr Guterres said.


The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says at least 112 residents were killed and hundreds injured when desperate Palestinians gathered at an aid convoy in Gaza city. Hamas accused Israeli troops of shooting at the crowd. According to an Israeli military investigation, nearly all the victims were either crushed in the stampede or run over by the aid lorries.

Hamas warned in a statement that the incident could lead to the failure of talks aimed at a deal on a truce and hostage releases before the start of the Ramadan holy month in 10 days’ time. “The negotiations conducted by the movement’s leadership are not an open process at the expense of the blood of our people,” it said.

The White House called the deaths “tremendously alarming”.

US president Joe Biden admitted the incident would complicate ceasefire talks, and said a truce by Monday was now unlikely.

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a press conference on Thursday night but did not mention the Gaza incident.

He said Israel had demanded a list of the hostages who are still alive that Hamas intends to release and is still waiting for a reply.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas described the Gaza aid convoy deaths as “an ugly massacre conducted by the Israeli occupation army”.

United Nations human rights chief Volker Türk expressed outrage over the incident. “There appear to be no bounds to – no words to capture – the horrors that are unfolding before our eyes in Gaza.”

According to the Israeli military, Thursday’s events occurred in three separate incidents.

It said in the first incident thousands of Palestinians approached a convoy of 30 aid trucks that had entered southern Gaza via the Rafah crossing early on Thursday morning and reached the Gaza city neighbourhood of Rimal. The Israeli military said many people were crushed and others were run over by the lorry drivers.

It said the second incident occurred when lorries that still had humanitarian aid travelled to Gaza city and Hamas gunmen opened fire on crowds approaching the convoy.

An Israeli Defence Forces spokesman claimed the third incident was the only one that involved Israeli troops opening fire and occurred when a crowd of a few dozen approached an Israeli tank and continued to advance after ignoring warning shots fired into the air by the tank crew. According to the spokesman, the soldiers then directed live fire at the lower bodies of some in the crowd, hitting “seven or eight people”. The army said it was unable to determine how many were killed as victims were taken away to Palestinian hospitals.

Medical teams said they were unable to cope with the volume and severity of the injuries, with dozens of wounded taken to the Al-Shifa hospital, which is only partially operational after Israeli raids on the facility earlier in the conflict.

In light of the growing chaos in Gaza and the desperate need for humanitarian aid, Israel is considering parachuting supplies or maritime deliveries to Gaza beaches, avoiding the need for contact between troops and residents.

Before the incident the Palestinian health authorities said more than 30,000 Palestinians were now confirmed killed and more than 70,000 wounded in Israel’s offensive, launched after the October 7th attack in which Israel said Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people and abducted more than 250, 134 of whom are still in Gaza

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin told a congressional hearing that more than 25,000 women and children had been killed by Israel’s offensive in Gaza, and that it could and should do more to protect civilians.

In the West Bank two Israelis were shot and killed when a Palestinian gunman opened fire at a petrol station close to the settlement of Eli. The assailant, a member of the Palestinian security forces who had served prison terms in Israel, was shot and killed at the site. - Additional reporting Reuters

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem