IDF spokesman: Troops fired warning shots to disperse mob rushing aid convoy, did not carry out strikes

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, speaking in English in an evening press conference, says troops fired warning shots in an attempt to disperse a mob of Palestinians rushing an aid convoy in northern Gaza early this morning, as dozens were killed amid a crowd crush.

“This morning, the IDF coordinated a convoy of 38 trucks to provide additional humanitarian assistance to the residents of northern Gaza. This humanitarian aid came from Egypt, went through a security screening at the Kerem Shalom humanitarian crossing in Israel, and then entered Gaza, for distribution by private contractors,” Hagari says.

“As these vital humanitarian supplies made their way toward Gazans in need, thousands of Gazans [rushed] the trucks, some began violently pushing and trampling other Gazans to death, looting the humanitarian supplies,” he says.

Hagari says “the unfortunate incident resulted in dozens of Gazans killed and injured.”

“Here are the facts: At 4:40 a.m., the first aid truck in the humanitarian convoy started making its way through the humanitarian corridor that we were securing. Yes, the IDF was securing the humanitarian corridor so that the aid convoy could reach its destination in northern Gaza,” he says.

“Our tanks were there to secure the humanitarian corridor for the aid convoy. Our UAVs were there in the air to give our forces a clear picture from above,” Hagari continues.

“At 4:45 a.m., a mob ambushed the aid trucks, bringing the convoy to a halt,” he says, showing a new video of the incident.

“In this video, the tanks that were there to secure the convoy saw the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tried to disperse the mob with a few warning shots,” he says.

“When the hundreds became thousands and things got out of hand, the tank commander decided to retreat to avoid harm to the thousands of Gazans that were there,” Hagari says.

“You can see how cautious they were when they were backing up. They were backing up securely, risking their own lives, not shooting at the mob,” he continues.

“The Israel Defense Forces operates according to the rules of engagement and international law. No IDF strike was conducted toward the aid convoy,” Hagari says, amid claims by Hamas that 104 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded.

“On the contrary, the IDF was there carrying out a humanitarian aid operation, to secure the humanitarian corridor, and allow the aid convoy to reach its distribution point, so that the humanitarian aid could reach Gazan civilians in the north who are in need,” he says.

Hagari says the IDF has been conducting operations of this kind “for the last four nights without any problem, this is the first night we have had any kind of event.”

“This humanitarian aid was coordinated by Israel, for the people of Gaza. We want the aid to reach the people of Gaza. We are working around the clock to make this happen. Israel puts no limits on the amount of aid that can go into Gaza,” he says.

“We are working together with humanitarian organizations and the international community to help them solve the issue of aid distribution inside Gaza, it is a problem,” Hagari says.

“We recognize the suffering of the innocent people of Gaza. This is why we are seeking ways to expand our humanitarian efforts, this is why we are conducting humanitarian operations,” he continues.

“Our war is against Hamas, not against the people of Gaza,” Hagari adds.

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