Gaza’s Health Ministry says at least 70 killed in strike on Palestinians waiting for aid

By Wafaa Shurafa And Kareem Chehayeb, The Associated Press on February 29, 2024.

Workers remove rubble at the site where three Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire in Faraa refugee camp near the West Bank town of Tubas, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinian men including Mohamed Daraghmeh, a co-founder of the local branch of the Islamic Jihad militant group, in the northern town of Tubas, early Tuesday, Palestinian health authorities said. Thee was no immediate comment from the Israeli military. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) – Gaza’s Health Ministry says at least 70 people were killed in a strike on a crowd of Palestinians waiting for humanitarian aid.

Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said another 280 were wounded in the strike early Thursday in Gaza City.

The Israeli military says it is looking into the reports.

The Al Jazeera network aired footage showing a large number of bodies and wounded people being brought into local hospitals, some loaded onto donkey carts.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) – The Gaza Health Ministry said Thursday that over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war nearly five months ago, as a strike on a crowd of people waiting for aid in Gaza City killed and wounded dozens, according to local hospital officials.

Gaza City and the rest of northern Gaza were the first targets of Israel’s air, sea and ground offensive launched in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack. The area has suffered widespread devastation and has been largely isolated from the rest of the territory for months, with little aid entering.

Aid groups say it has become nearly impossible to deliver humanitarian assistance in most of Gaza, in part because of the crowds of desperate people who overwhelm aid convoys. The U.N. says a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians face starvation.

Dr. Jadallah Shafai, the head of the nursing department at Shifa Hospital, told the Al Jazeera network that around 50 people were killed and 250 wounded. He did not provide a precise toll. Al Jazeera ran footage showing several bodies and injured people arriving at Shifa.

Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, the director of the Kamal Adwan Hospital, said it had received at least 10 bodies and 160 wounded people.

Fares Afana, the head of the ambulance service at Kamal Adwan, said medics arriving at the scene found “dozens or hundreds” lying on the ground. He said there were not enough ambulances to collect all the dead and wounded and that some were being brought to hospitals on donkey carts.

Dr, Mohammad Salha, the acting director of the Al-Awda Hospital, said it received 90 wounded and three dead, who were transferred to Kamal Adwan.

“We expect a rise in the number killed,” he said. “There are many wounded still at the reception and the emergency room.”

He said Al-Awda is largely out of commission, with no electricity and the operating room running on battery power with only hours left. Gaza’s health sector is under severe strain nearly five months into the Israel-Hamas war.

The Israeli military said it was looking into the reports.

Gaza’s Health Ministry did not immediately provide an official toll from the strike, but it said the Palestinian death toll from the war has climbed to 30,035, with another 70,457 wounded. It does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its figures but says women and children make up around two-thirds of those killed.

The ministry, which is part of the Hamas-run government, maintains detailed records of casualties. Its counts from previous wars have largely matched those of the U.N., independent experts and even Israel’s own tallies.

The Hamas attack into southern Israel that ignited the war killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the militants seized around 250 hostages. Hamas is still holding around 130 hostages, a quarter of whom are believed to be dead, after releasing most of the others during a weeklong cease-fire in November.

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Chehayeb reported from Beirut.

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Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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