Witnesses of Aid Convoy Violence Describe Shooting, Panic and Desperation

They went out by the thousands, camping overnight along a coastal road in the cold Gaza night, huddled together by small fires, waiting for supplies to come so they could feed their families.

What they encountered was death and injury by the hundreds, according to witnesses and a doctor who treated the wounded, as Israeli forces opened fire toward desperate Palestinians who surged forward when aid trucks finally arrived before dawn on Thursday.

“I saw things I never, ever thought I would see,” said Mohammed Al-Sholi, who had camped out overnight for a chance to get food for his family. “I saw people falling to the ground after being shot, and others simply took the food items that were with them and continued running for their lives.”

Amid the chaos and bloodshed, some people were run over by the aid trucks, he said.

On Friday, President Biden said the United States would begin airdropping aid to Gaza to help relieve the suffering there, as European leaders condemned Israel for the deaths of scores of hungry Palestinians who were killed as they surrounded the aid convoy.

The Gazan health authorities have said that Israeli troops killed more than 100 people and wounded 700 others in a “massacre” as the convoy rolled along a dark road, a version of events that Israel disputed.

An Israeli military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said on Thursday that Israeli soldiers had been trying to secure the convoy and fired “when the mob moved in a manner that endangered them.” But he said the soldiers had not fired on people seeking aid. The military has said that most of the people died in a stampede and that some were run over by the trucks in Gaza City.

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