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Growing international calls for investigation into deadly Gaza aid disaster

IDF aerial surveillance of humanitarian operation in Gaza shows stampede caused during looting of aid trucks; Palestinians transport casualties following a stampede around an aid convoy in northern Gaza, in this still picture taken from a video Feb. 29, 2024. (Photo: IDF/Screenshot, REUTERS TV via REUTERS)

Israel faced growing international demands on Friday for an independent investigation into the recent Gaza aid stampede, which reportedly claimed the lives of over 100 Gazans who gathered next to an aid convoy in the northern part of the coastal enclave.

However, even before a proper investigation has been conducted, a growing number of countries are blaming the Jewish state for the tragic incident. The harshest condemnations emanated from Middle Eastern governments, including Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. However, there has also been growing criticism from several European governments, such as Spain and Ireland.

The terrorist organization Hamas, which uses its own population as human shields and has a history of disseminating false information, quickly accused Israel of committing a “massacre.”

While Israel has promised a thorough investigation of the incident, IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari announced that a preliminary evaluation indicates that the Israeli military did not target the aid convoy.

“No IDF strike was conducted toward the aid convoy,” Hagari said. “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,” Hagari said in a statement.

The United States vetoed a UN Security Council (UNSC) statement on Thursday blaming Israel for the lethal stampede.

The diplomatic move against Israel was initiated by Algeria, a country that has no diplomatic ties with Israel. The North African nation has a history of deep hostility towards the Jewish people.

While Washington blocked the hostile diplomatic move against Jerusalem at the United Nations, U.S. State Department Spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed that the United States has asked Israel to probe the incident.

“We have been in touch with the Israeli government since early this morning and understand that an investigation is underway. We will be monitoring that investigation closely and pressing for answers,” Miller said.

The senior U.S. official noted that Washington had urged Israel to permit “as many points of access as possible, and to enable safe and secure distribution of that aid throughout Gaza.”

The Gaza aid stampede occurred at a sensitive time, as the U.S. and the international community have been stepping up diplomatic efforts to implement a temporary truce that would secure the release of Israeli hostages and increase the flow of aid into the Gaza Strip.

U.S. President Joe Biden is calling for the truce to be implemented before the start of the Muslim holiday Ramadan on March 10.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed cautious optimism about an “exchange of hostages” during a visit to Turkey on Friday.

“We are hopeful that we can reach a cessation of hostilities and exchange of hostages. Everyone recognizes that we have a time limit to be successful before the start of Ramadan,” Shoukry said.

In exchange for the release of Israeli hostages being illegally held in Gaza, Hamas demands the release of hundreds of convicted Palestinian terrorists who are currently being detained in Israeli jails.

Israeli society is divided between those who believe that the government should focus on eliminating Hamas and those who urge the Israeli government to prioritize the release of the hostages. Many family members of hostages believe that the Israeli government is not doing enough and have urged the Biden administration to increase its pressure on Jerusalem on the hostage issue.

“The [Biden] administration is more committed to the issue of the hostages than the Israeli government, therefore the families of the hostages, together with other activists, will call on the responsible adult to apply pressure and save the abductees from Hamas captivity and the extremist government,” stated the organizers of a rally calling for the hostages to be brought home, according to the Ynet news outlet.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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