UN attempts to blame Israel for Gaza aid convoy stampede deaths

Several countries and the United Nations Security Council are blaming Israel for the deaths of over 100 Palestinians on Thursday at riots that broke out when a convoy of 38 trucks delivered humanitarian aid to the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza city. 

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said that troops had fired warning shots in an attempt to disperse the mob of Palestinians.

“This morning, the IDF coordinated a convoy of 38 trucks to provide additional humanitarian assistance to the residents of northern Gaza. This humanitarian aid came from Egypt, went through a security screening at the Kerem Shalom humanitarian crossing in Israel, and then entered Gaza, for distribution by private contractors,” Hagari said.

“As these vital humanitarian supplies made their way toward Gazans in need, thousands of Gazans [rushed] the trucks, some began violently pushing and trampling other Gazans to death, looting the humanitarian supplies.”

“Here are the facts: At 4:40 a.m., the first aid truck in the humanitarian convoy started making its way through the humanitarian corridor that we were securing,” Hagari continued. “Our tanks were there to secure the humanitarian corridor for the aid convoy. Our UAVs were there in the air to give our forces a clear picture from above.”

“At 4:45 a.m., a mob ambushed the aid trucks, bringing the convoy to a halt,” he said. 

IDF drone footage shows mobs swarming trucks. The IDF claims that most of the deaths occurred as a result of the stampede and trucks running over the rioters. 

“In this video, the tanks that were there to secure the convoy saw the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tried to disperse the mob with a few warning shots,” he said. “When the hundreds became thousands and things got out of hand, the tank commander decided to retreat to avoid harm to the thousands of Gazans that were there.”

“You can see how cautious they were when they were backing up. They were backing up securely, risking their own lives, not shooting at the mob,” he continued, insisting that the army “operates according to the rules of engagement and international law.”

“No IDF strike was conducted toward the aid convoy,” Hagari said. “On the contrary, the IDF was there carrying out a humanitarian aid operation, to secure the humanitarian corridor, and allow the aid convoy to reach its distribution point, so that the humanitarian aid could reach Gazan civilians in the north who are in need.”

The IDF noted that the trucks were driven by “private contractors”. The IDF specified that it did not fire on the main crowd but did fire at individuals who threatened IDF positions nearby, noting that fewer than 10 of the casualties were a result of Israeli gunfire.

The IDF also reported that several of the trucks continued to travel northward and were attacked by gunmen who looted the convoy.

Hamas claimed 104 Gazans were killed in the incident and 740 more were wounded. These figures have not been confirmed.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan accused Israel of targeting civilians in the incident A statement from the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Thursday accused Israel of adding “another crime to its crimes against humanity.”

France’s foreign ministry also condemned Israel and Spain’s foreign minister called the deaths “unacceptable.” European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell similarly denounced the deaths as “totally unacceptable.”

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro announced his government was suspending purchases of weapons from Israel, describing the deadly incident as “genocide”, saying it was “reminiscent of the Holocaust”. Israel suspended security exports to Colombia in October after Petro described Israel’s response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre as “Nazism”.

The New York Times rejected the drone footage, claiming it was deceptively edited by the IDF. Instead, the NYT cited video footage provided by Al Jazeera with the caption claiming that the IDF was “shooting towards Palestinians waiting for aid”. The video clearly shows tracer bullets passing well overhead of the crowds. 

The NYT also cites eyewitnesses. Blogger Elder of Ziyon noted that the NYT cited Husam Abu Safiya, who has been cited by media in the past, making accusations that were later debunked.  The NYT also cited Hussam Shabat who provided a photo of bodies on a donkey cart as proof that the IDF had shot Gazans. No bullet wounds were evident. As a result of the NYT article, Shabat started a GoFundMe page that has collected nearly $80,000.

The Associated Press reported that 14 of the 15 members of the Security Council favored approving a resolution, drafted by Algeria, blaming Israel for the dozens of deaths. The US used its veto power to block the resolution.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized the move by the US, saying that political partisanship has “transformed the veto power into an effective instrument of paralysis of the action of the Security Council.

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