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PARIS – Israeli troops in the northern Gaza Strip opened fire on Palestinians scrambling for food aid on Thursday, in a chaotic incident that the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said killed more than 100 people.

There were conflicting reports about how the pre-dawn incident unfolded.

The Israeli military said a “stampede” occurred when thousands of Gazans surrounded a convoy of 38 aid trucks, leading to dozens of deaths and injuries, including some people being run over.

An Israeli source said troops had opened fire on the crowd, believing it “posed a threat”.

The Gaza health ministry condemned the “massacre” in Gaza City, saying 112 people were killed and more than 750 wounded.

Reactions to the deaths have poured in from around the world.

US President Joe Biden said the incident would complicate delicate ceasefire negotiations in the almost five-month-old war, with the White House calling the deaths “tremendously alarming”.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the United States was “urgently seeking additional information on exactly what took place”.

Washington will be monitoring an upcoming investigation closely and “pressing for answers,” he said.

France’s foreign ministry said “the fire by Israeli soldiers against civilians trying to access food is unjustifiable”.

The “tragic event” came as an “increasing and unbearable number of Palestinian civilians” were suffering from hunger and disease, it added, saying Israel must abide by international law and protect aid deliveries to civilians.

Writing on the social media platform X that Palestinian “civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers,” French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his “strongest condemnation” of the killings.

Turkey accused Israel of committing “another crime against humanity” and condemning Gazans to “famine” as civilians scavenge for dwindling supplies of food.

“The fact that Israel… this time targets innocent civilians in a queue for humanitarian aid, is evidence that (Israel) aims consciously and collectively to destroy the Palestinian people”, the Turkish foreign ministry said.

Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro denounced what he called a “genocide” of the Palestinian people and suspended purchases of weapons from Israel, a key supplier of his country’s security forces.

“Asking for food, more than 100 Palestinians were killed by (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu. This is called genocide and recalls the Holocaust,” Petro wrote on X.

“The world must block Netanyahu.”

“The unacceptable nature of what happened in Gaza, with dozens of Palestinian civilians dead as they were waiting for food, underlines the urgency of a ceasefire,” Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares wrote on X.

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza and urged Israel to protect the Palestinian population after the “tragic deaths”.

“We strongly urge Israel to protect the people in Gaza and to rigorously ascertain facts and responsibilities,” he said on X.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her “deep dismay and concern” over the violence.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the incident and was “appalled by the tragic human toll of the conflict”, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“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.

European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell denounced the deaths as “totally unacceptable”.

“I am horrified by news of yet another carnage among civilians in Gaza desperate for humanitarian aid,” he said on X.

Qatar’s foreign ministry condemned “in the strongest terms the heinous massacre committed by the Israeli occupation”, calling for “urgent international action” to halt the fighting in Gaza.

It went on to warn that Israel’s “disregard for Palestinian lives… will ultimately undermine international efforts aimed at implementing the two-state solution, and thus pave the way for the expansion of the cycle of violence in the region.”

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry condemned the deaths and reiterated “the need to reach an immediate ceasefire”.

It also renewed its “demands to the international community to take a firm position to oblige Israel to respect international humanitarian law, immediately open safe humanitarian corridors, allow the evacuation of the injured, and enable the delivery of relief aid.”

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Chinese Mao Ning said China was shocked by the incident and strongly condemned the killing of Palestinians during an aid delivery.

“China urges the relevant parties, especially Israel, to cease fire and end the fighting immediately, earnestly protect civilians’ safety, ensure that humanitarian aid can enter, and avoid an even more serious humanitarian disaster,” Mao said.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said her country was “horrified by today’s catastrophe in Gaza and the ongoing humanitarian crisis that has led to it”.

“These events underscore why for months Australia has been calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza,” she said.

“I have instructed my department to express Australia’s views directly to the Israeli ambassador.”


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