Riots at Rafah Crossing after Gaza teen trying to grab aid is shot dead by Hamas

Footage shows chaos at border with Egypt as family members of the victim said to start fires at the scene

Rioting at the Rafah Crossing in southern Gaza on February 16, 2023 (video screenshot)
Rioting at the Rafah Crossing in southern Gaza on February 16, 2023 (video screenshot)

Riots took place near the Gaza Strip’s border crossing with Egypt Friday, reportedly after a Palestinian teen who tried to grab items from a humanitarian aid shipment was shot dead by Hamas police.

Arabic media reported on the incident at the Rafah Crossing.

The teen, identified as Muhammad al-Araja, was apparently one of a group of people who tried to nab the aid when he was shot dead.

After the shooting, reports and footage indicated that many members of the victim’s large extended family began rioting at the crossing, setting fire to parts of the complex and clashing with authorities there.

Nearly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians — more than half of Gaza’s population — are in Rafah, seeking shelter from the Israel-Hamas war in a sprawling makeshift encampment near the Egyptian border, and the humanitarian conditions there have been described as increasingly dire.

The Defense Ministry’s liaison unit to the Palestinians chastised the United Nations on Thursday, alleging it was not keeping up with humanitarian aid operations in the Strip.

Since the beginning of the war, aid groups have charged that they are not receiving enough supplies to meet the demands of Gazans in the embattled enclave.

But the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) posted photos on X of what it said is “the content of 500 trucks of humanitarian aid on the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom, AFTER Israeli inspection, waiting to be picked up and distributed by UN organizations.

“It is the 3rd day in a row that hundreds of trucks are not picked up. The UN needs to scale up their operations,” COGAT said.

Israel has accused humanitarian actors of not doing enough to distribute aid since the beginning of the war. Particular criticism has been directed at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which stands accused of failing to visit hostages held by Hamas and provide them with adequate assistance.

ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric said Thursday: “We are reaching the barriers of language in describing the humanitarian situation.”

Humanitarians have warned that carrying out aid operations in the area could soon become impossible. The Red Cross chief told diplomats that their countries were responsible for ensuring the Geneva Conventions on human treatment are upheld.

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