CNN reconstructs the deadly attack on a family in Gaza 7:26

(CNN) ––

One of the worst tragedies of Israel's war against Hamas took place this Thursday, when dozens of Palestinians died while trying to get food aid in Gaza City.

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At least 104 people were killed and another 760 wounded in an incident in which Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops opened fire as hungry and desperate Palestinian civilians gathered around food aid trucks, the Health Ministry said. Palestinian in Gaza.

CNN cannot independently confirm these figures.

The incident unfolded against a backdrop of widespread famine and extreme poverty in the besieged enclave, where food aid has been so scarce that it is often delivered amid scenes of panic.

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However, surrounding the tragedy there are conflicting narratives between what Israel has pointed out and what the witnesses who were at the scene say.

This is what we know.


What happened?

The deaths came amid scenes of chaos on Haroun Al Rasheed Street in western Gaza City, where crowds of hungry Palestinians had gathered to receive food assistance.

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A convoy of at least 18 food trucks arrived around 4.30am on Thursday, sent by countries in the region including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to witnesses.

Civilians gathered around the aid trucks in hopes of getting food, and Israeli forces soon began shooting, witnesses said.

The aid trucks attempted to escape the area, accidentally hitting other people and causing more deaths and injuries, witnesses added to CNN.

Ambulances had difficulty reaching the injured because debris blocked the road, one of those witnesses, Ahmad Abu Al Foul, told CNN.

Most of the victims were people who ended up being hit by aid trucks trying to escape Israeli fire, according to a local journalist in Gaza, Khader Al Za'anoun.

  • There have already been more than 30,000 deaths in Gaza since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to the Ministry of Health

Al Za'anoun, who was at the scene and witnessed the incident, said that while there were large crowds waiting for the food to be distributed, the chaos and confusion that led to people being run over by the trucks only began when soldiers Israelis started shooting.

"Most of the people who died were hit by aid trucks during the chaos, and while trying to escape Israeli gunfire," Al Za'anoun said.

An injured Palestinian receives medical treatment at Al-Shifa hospital following the incident.

(Credit: Dawoud Abo Alkas/Anadolu/Getty Images)

What does Israel say?

Israel's account of the incident changed as the day progressed.

In its first statements, the IDF said the incident began when Palestinians tried to loot the trucks.

“Early this morning, as humanitarian aid trucks entered northern Gaza, Gaza residents surrounded the trucks and looted the supplies being delivered.

During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured due to pushing and trampling,” they told CNN.

Hours later, an Israeli military spokesman said in a briefing that there were two separate incidents involving aid trucks in Gaza on Thursday.

First, he said the trucks entered northern Gaza and were surrounded by crowds, leading to the vehicles running over people.

Later, he said, a group of Palestinians approached Israeli forces, who then opened fire on them.

“The trucks headed north, then the stampede occurred and then the event against our forces occurred.

"This is how things happened this morning," said the spokesperson.

However, that timeline directly contradicts eyewitness accounts, which suggested that the Israeli military opened fire on people near the trucks, prompting panicked drivers to try to drive away.

IDF spokesman Daniel Hargari said at a news conference Thursday that there was no attack on the aid convoy.

“I want to repeat that.

No IDF attack was carried out against the aid convoy.

On the contrary, the IDF was there carrying out a humanitarian operation,” he insisted.

What is the humanitarian situation in Gaza?

More than half a million people in Gaza are on the brink of famine, United Nations agencies warned Tuesday, as the war in the enclave approaches five months.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that at least 576,000 people in Gaza “face catastrophic levels of deprivation and hunger.”

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Program warned “of a real prospect of famine by May, with 500,000 people at risk if the threat is allowed to materialise”.

“Today, almost the entire population of 2.2 million people needs food aid.

Gaza is experiencing the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world,” Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Programme, told the Security Council during its session on Tuesday.

"One in six children under two years of age suffers from acute malnutrition."

“Today I am quite shocked by what I saw,” he continued.

“The moment we crossed the border... we saw the aid trucks speeding down the road, while they were chased by gangs of young people who jumped on the trucks and, before our eyes, stole mattresses, blankets, food, etc. , to desperate people hoping to receive some help.”

What does this mean for war?

Thursday's tragedy represents one of the worst incidents in Gaza since Israel's war against Hamas began.

And it comes at a critical moment in the conflict, as negotiations between Israel and Hamas on an agreement to stop the fighting and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza reached a potentially crucial moment.

Senior Hamas member Izzat Al-Risheq warned that the deaths of people collecting aid from trucks in Gaza could lead to the failure of ongoing talks.

"The negotiations are not an open process," he said in a statement published by Hamas on Telegram.

“We will not allow the path of negotiations… [to become] a cover for the enemy's continued crimes against our people in Gaza,” Al-Risheq said.

Israel's war against Hamas has displaced almost the entire population of Gaza.

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

A spokesman for the United States National Security Council said Thursday that the White House is reviewing the scenes, and described the events as a "serious incident."

He also used his statement to urge a temporary ceasefire in the war.

“This is a serious incident and we are investigating the reports.

"We mourn the loss of innocent lives and recognize the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where innocent Palestinians are just trying to feed their families."

"This underscores the importance of expanding and maintaining the flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, including through a possible temporary ceasefire," the statement said.

"We continue to work day and night to achieve that result."

President Joe Biden said Monday from New York City that he hoped there would be a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas by “next Monday,” although officials from Israel, Hamas and Qatar –– which is helping to mediate in the negotiations–– they distanced themselves from that deadline.

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Biden said Thursday that “there are two competing versions of what happened,” which his administration is investigating.

Asked by CNN's Arlette Saenz at the White House on Thursday if she was worried the deaths would complicate negotiations, Biden responded: "Oh, I know they will."

But he still expressed optimism that an agreement on the hostages and a possible ceasefire could soon be reached.

Mostafa Salem, Lauren Izso and Jennifer Hauser, all of CNN, contributed to this report.

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