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Hamas says 19 Gazans were killed in attacks while waiting for help, Israel denies

Hamas says 19 Gazans were killed in attacks while waiting for help, Israel denies

The Israeli army denied firing on the crowd.

The Hamas-run government in Gaza said Israeli fire killed 19 people on Saturday as they waited at an aid distribution point, an accusation Israel denied.

If confirmed, the deaths would be the latest in a string of cases in which civilians have been killed in the Gaza Strip while seeking urgently needed aid.

According to the Hamas government media office, 19 people were killed and 23 injured. The Health Ministry said “they were waiting for relief trucks at the roundabout in Kuwait” when they were hit by “tank fire and shells from the Israeli occupying army.”

The Israeli army denied firing on the crowd.

“The reports alleging that the (Israeli military) attacked dozens of people in the Gaza Strip during an aid convoy are false,” the army said in a statement.

“Preliminary findings indicate that there was no airstrike against the convoy, nor were any incidents identified in which (Israeli) forces fired on people in the aid convoy.”

AFPTV footage showed bloodied Gazans arriving at the crowded Al-Ahli hospital compound, with at least one of them being transported in a donkey cart.

Gaza City resident Wael al-Mamlouk called on Arab governments to intervene to prevent what he described as Israeli abuses.

“Where are the Arabs? Where is the Arab nation? Enough with this injustice,” he said.

Recent aid distribution tragedy

Gaza Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Basal said there had been “heavy shooting at civilians” and that the victims had been transported to a nearby hospital.

“There were very serious injuries, some of them sustained by shrapnel. The reality is tragic, difficult and challenging,” he said.

Half of Gaza residents suffer from “catastrophic” hunger. Famine is likely to hit the territory’s north by May unless urgent action is taken, a United Nations-backed food assessment warned on Monday.

As aid organizations report enormous difficulties in accessing the Gaza Strip, especially in the north, the United Nations has been warning of an impending famine for weeks.

But aid distribution has become increasingly dangerous and sometimes deadly.

On March 15, Gaza’s health ministry said an Israeli fire killed 20 people and injured 155 as they waited for help, also at a roundabout in Kuwait, an account Israel rejected as “false.”

The Israeli military said “armed Palestinians” opened fire while Gazans waited for aid trucks to arrive, then “continued firing as the crowd of Gazans began looting the trucks.”

On February 29, also in northern Gaza, more than 100 Gazans were killed when Israeli troops opened fire on people searching for food from a convoy, according to the Health Ministry.

The Israeli army said its initial investigation found that troops had “targeted shots” at suspects who approached them and posed a threat.

Just over a month earlier, in late January, the Health Ministry said Israeli forces had again killed 20 people waiting for humanitarian aid to be distributed at the roundabout in Kuwait.

The Israeli military said at the time it was investigating the reported deaths.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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