Al-Rashid Street Massacre: Dozens killed in Israeli attack on Gaza civilian food queue

Al-Rashid Street Massacre: Dozens killed in Israeli attack on Gaza civilian food queue
Hamas has said it holds the US government and the international community responsible for the atrocity which killed dozens of desperate civilians
4 min read
29 February, 2024
Cases of starvation have been reported in northern Gaza due to Israeli siege [Getty]

More than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed and over 700 injured as they queued for aid on Thursday morning in Gaza, in the latest massacre committed by Israeli forces in the besieged enclave.

At least 112 Palestinians have been confirmed killed and 760 injured in the attack so far, according to the latest update from Gaza's ministry of health.

Thousands of people were waiting for food and aid supplies at around 4:30 am local time at Al-Rashid Street, near Gaza City, when Israeli forces opened fire on the crowd causing mass casualties and panic.

The dead and wounded were rushed to the barely functioning Al-Shifa Hospital and Kamal Adwan Hospital, many transported on the trucks which had been carrying aid.

Ashraf Al-Qudra, the spokesperson for Gaza's ministry of health, said that at least 280 were wounded and feared the death toll could rise in the attack near Al-Nabulsi roundabout, a meeting point which has been designated for aid deliveries in recent days.

Al-Qudra said the atrocity marked "a new turning point in the series of genocide".

"The Israeli occupation forces are committing systematic killing operations against 700,000 people in northern Gaza through targeting and starvation," he said in a statement.

After initially denying knowledge of the incident, the Israeli military later said that it started firing on a group of civilians waiting for aid who "dangerously" approached them, according to an Israeli military official quoted by Times of Israel.

Doctors at the two hospitals have said they are struggling to treat the wounded amid a major shortage of supplies in the besieged northern regions.

Faris Afana, head of ambulance services at Al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera they are unable to cope with the large numbers of victims.

"We have only three ambulances operational, as we ran out of fuel. We drove along al-Rashid road to find dozens of dead bodies lying on the way," he said.

"For more than four hours now, we have been transporting victims to the hospitals."

Footage shared online by local media showed the dead and wounded being carried by hand or on donkey carts amid a shortage of ambulances and fuel supplies.

Northern areas of Gaza have been cut off from aid supplies for weeks due to an effective Israeli siege, leading to starving men, women, and children eating animal food and grass in a bid to survive, the UN has said.

Gaza’s government media office said it holds "the American administration…the international community responsible for the killing of civilians while they are starving at the hands of the occupation".

"We hold the American administration, President Biden personally, the international community, the 'Israeli' occupation, and international organizations that have shied away from their responsibilities," the office said in a statement on Thursday.

Al Jazeera network’s reporter in Gaza said that the "Israeli military opened fire on aid seekers".

"Israeli tanks advanced and ran over many of the dead and injured bodies in the southwestern parts of Gaza City," they said.

Hundreds of casualties are arriving at the hospitals of northern Gaza following the Israeli massacre at Al Rasheed Street, even as some of them are out of service.

— Quds News Network (@QudsNen) February 29, 2024

In response to the atrocity, Hamas accused Israel of a "hideous massacre, unprecedented in the history of war crimes" by firing on civilians waiting for aid.

The Palestinian group, which rules the enclave, said that the attack was part of Israeli efforts to "obliterate" the Palestinian cause and remove Palestinians from their land.

The group also suggested that the incident has the potential to derail tense ceasefire talks with Israel, which have been stalled for weeks.

"The enemy bears the consequences of the failure of negotiations as long as it persists in its crimes against our people," it said.

The Israeli military said dozens of Palestinians were injured by "trampling" as the crowd grew "violent" and began "looting" the trucks.

The military official, quoted by the Times of Israel, said that some members of the crowd began heading towards Israeli forces who were in charge of overseeing the aid delivery in a way that "endangered" them, adding that the troops then "opened fire at the crowd".

The military is conducting a review of the incident, it added.

The United Nations accused Israel this week of "systematically" blocking aid access to people in Gaza, as over a quarter of the 2.3 million population is said to be on the brink of famine.