IDF probe: Palestinian gunmen killed Gazans waiting for aid, army did not fire
Israel at warArmy decries a Hamas 'smear campaign' aimed at stoking violence

IDF probe: Palestinian gunmen killed Gazans waiting for aid, army did not fire

Military denies claims by Hamas health authorities that Israeli tanks and helicopters killed 21, wounded 150 others at Gaza City square

In this screenshot taken from video released by the IDF on Feb. 29, 2024, Palestinians surround aid trucks in northern Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)
In this screenshot taken from video released by the IDF on Feb. 29, 2024, Palestinians surround aid trucks in northern Gaza. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Israel Defense Forces on Friday denied claims by the Hamas terror group that troops had opened fire on crowds of civilians waiting for aid at a square in Gaza City, saying that Israeli soldiers did not shoot at any stage during the incident and that Palestinian gunmen caused the casualties.

The Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip accused Israeli troops of opening fire from “tanks and helicopters” at the civilians gathered at Kuwait Square late Thursday, killing 21 people and wounding more than 150 others.

The Israeli military said that after conducting an “intensive preliminary review,” it found that “the IDF did not open fire at the aid convoy at Kuwait Square.”

According to the IDF’s probe, a convoy of 31 trucks containing food and other humanitarian aid for civilians made its way to northern Gaza on Thursday night.

An hour before the convoy arrived at an IDF-established corridor, armed Palestinians opened fire while civilians were waiting for the aid trucks, the probe found.

“As aid trucks were entering [the corridor], the Palestinian gunmen continued to shoot as the crowd of Gazans began looting the trucks,” the IDF said, adding that it also identified several civilians who had been run over by the trucks.

“A review of our operational systems and IDF troops [on the ground] found that no tank shelling, airstrike or gunfire was carried out toward the Gazan crowd in the area of the aid convoy,” the military said.

The IDF added that it was continuing to investigate the incident.

In a statement, the military said that while it “continues its humanitarian effort to supply food and humanitarian aid to the civilians of the Gaza Strip, Hamas terrorists continue to harm Gazan civilians who are seeking food, and Hamas is blaming Israel for it.

“As a result, on the first Friday of the month of Ramadan, a smear campaign was created with the aim of spreading baseless misinformation for the sake of instigating violence in other arenas,” the IDF added.

Thursday’s incident comes weeks after more than 100 Palestinians were reported killed as they swarmed aid trucks that entered Gaza City. The IDF’s probe into the incident in late February found that troops stationed in the area did not open fire on the convoy itself as Hamas had claimed. Rather, the probe found that shots were fired at several Gazans who moved toward soldiers and a tank at an IDF checkpoint, in a way that “posed a threat to them.”

The incident also comes amid mounting international concerns about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the difficulties in providing aid for the more than two million people caught up in a war that began when Hamas carried out a devastating attack on Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 253 hostages.

Gaza City and the rest of northern Gaza were the first targets of Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive. The area has suffered widespread devastation and has been largely isolated from the rest of the territory for months, with little aid entering and most of the population having evacuated southward. Some 300,000 Palestinians are estimated by the IDF to still be in northern Gaza.

Aid groups say it has become nearly impossible to deliver humanitarian assistance in most of Gaza because of the difficulty of coordinating with the Israeli military, ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of public order, with crowds of desperate people overwhelming aid convoys. The UN says a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians face starvation; around 80% have fled their homes.

The IDF has said it is trying new methods of delivery to northern Gaza in an attempt to prevent Hamas from taking over the humanitarian aid, including using a new military road that provides convoys with a more direct route and bringing the food and supplies via the sea. PJC

read more: