UN chief ‘condemns’ killing of over 100 Palestinians during aid delivery in Gaza

Antonio Guterres

UNITED NATIONS, Mar 01 (APP): UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the deadly “incident” in northern Gaza in which “more than 100 people were reportedly killed or injured while seeking life-saving aid”, a statement from his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said.

The statement said, “The Secretary-General condemns the incident today in northern Gaza in which more than a hundred people were reportedly killed or injured while seeking life-saving aid. The desperate civilians in Gaza need urgent help, including those in the besieged north where the United Nations has not been able to deliver aid in more than a week.”

Desperate for food, thousands of Palestinians in Gaza City flocked to an aid distribution point early Thursday, only to be met with a chaotic situation and live fire by Israeli troops, according to media reports.

An Israeli source, these reports said, has acknowledged that troops opened fire on the crowd, believing it “posed a threat,” but a spokesperson for Israel’s prime minister office claimed that many people had been run over by the aid trucks.

Dujarric, the United Nations spokesman , said the events “need to be investigated.”

“We don’t know exactly what happened but whether people were shot and died as a result of Israeli gunfire, whether they were crushed by a crowd, whether they were run over by truck, these are all acts of violence, in a sense, due to this conflict,” said Dujarric.

He said there was “no UN presence” at the scene and reiterated the secretary-general’s call for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages.”

“The desperate civilians in Gaza need urgent help, including those in the besieged north where the United Nations has not been able to deliver aid in more than a week,” Dujarric said, adding that Guterres was “appalled by the tragic human toll of the conflict.”

“Even after close to five months of brutal hostilities, Gaza still has the ability to shock us,” said UN relief chief Martin Griffiths in a post on X.

“I am appalled at the reported killing and injury of hundreds of people during a transfer of aid supplies west of Gaza City today,” he said. “Life is draining out of Gaza at terrifying speed.”

Intense Israeli bombardment from air, land and sea continues to be reported across much of the Gaza Strip, resulting in further civilian casualties, displacement and destruction of civilian infrastructure, according to the latest situation report from UN humanitarian agency OCHA.

Ground operations and heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups also continue to be reported, particularly in northern Gaza, Deir Al-Balah and Khan Younis, the report said.

Fears persist over the planned Israeli incursion into Rafah, where more than one million people are seeking shelter from the violence since Oct 7. 2023.

Rafah is under fire every day, said Georgios Petropoulos, OCHA’s head of the Gaza sub-office.

“We will do our best” to serve people in need with the resources at hand, he added. “We are needed here. We need people here to stand for hope and human dignity.”

Unless more aid is delivered, UN officials warned of an impending famine in Gaza. Local health authorities reported that six infants have already died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration, the OCHA report stated.

Besieged hospitals continue to grapple with raids and attacks, according to doctors trapped in the enclave who continue to serve patients as best they can.

As health centres and hospitals persevere amid raids and dangerous shortages of lifesaving supplies, a Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) medical point in Jabalya, in northern Gaza, is receiving a daily average of 100 to 150 patients suffering from hepatitis A.

Meanwhile, stalled aid deliveries idle on border crossings with Egypt and Israel. Media reports indicate that Israel civilians were preventing trucks from entering Gaza at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Desperation among Gazans has multiplied as aid trickles into the enclave, with UN officials stating that the current, restricted deliveries do not even meet the minimum demands.

Also on Thursday, 17 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the European Union (EU) signed a joint appeal to restore funding to the UN relief agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA.

“We urge the EU and Member States to take note that other aid agencies cannot replicate UNRWA’s central role in the humanitarian response in Gaza, and amidst the current crisis many will struggle to even maintain their current operations without UNRWA’s partnership and support,” they said in a statement.

The joint appeal comes after major UNRWA donors suspended funding following Israel’s allegations that a dozen staff members were involved in the Hamas attacks in October that triggered the current devastating war in the enclave. The donors withheld funds pending ongoing independent UN investigations of the matter.

“The suspension of funding to the main aid provider for millions of Palestinians in Gaza will impact life-saving assistance for over two million people,” said UNRWA, which serves almost 6 million Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, with education, healthcare and other essential services.

“Don’t look away from Gaza,” OCHA’s Petropoulos said. “Find the truth of what’s happening and believe in humanity. The only good thing war can do is to end.”

APP Services