Home NEWS International News How more than 100 Gazans were killed at a food air drop

How more than 100 Gazans were killed at a food air drop

At least 112 Palestinians were killed as crowds rushed around lorries delivering desperately needed food aid in the small hours of Thursday morning, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Hundreds of people descended on the line of vehicles as it travelled in darkness northwards along the coastal road just outside Gaza City, accompanied by the Israeli military.

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In addition to the dead, 760 people were injured, the ministry said.

The tragic incident has given rise to differing claims about what happened and who was responsible for the carnage.

BBC Verify has looked at key information – when it emerged and where from. We have examined social media videos, satellite imagery and IDF drone footage to piece together what we know – and don’t know – about what happened so far.

This footage, posted on Instagram at 23:30 local time on 28 February, shows some of the hundreds of people huddled round fires as they await a humanitarian aid shipment.

The UN is warning of a looming famine in northern Gaza, where an estimated 300,000 people are living with little food or clean water – the area has received very little aid in recent weeks.

The video shows people are camped out on al-Rashid Street, the coast road to the south-west of Gaza City. It is an area that has been used recently as an aid distribution point.

We have previously verified video at that location showing people gathering around lorries to claim sacks of grain.

Mahmoud Awadeyah, a journalist who was at the scene, told the BBC: “There was a large number of people looking for something to eat and a bag of flour.”

Convoy approaches encampment

At about 04:00 local time on Thursday 29 February, a convoy of lorries carrying the aid from Egypt passes through an Israel Defence Forces (IDF) location, making its way north along al-Rashid Street.

The IDF says there were 30 lorries in the convoy, while an eyewitness told the BBC there were 18 – even at the lower figure, it would have stretched for at least a few hundred metres.

The IDF’s chief spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, said that at about 04:45 lorries in the convoy were surrounded by crowds of people as the vehicles approached the Nabulsi roundabout, on the south-western edge of Gaza City.

People surround trucks

This is a screengrab from infra-red drone footage released by the IDF.

The video released by the IDF is not one single sequence. It has been edited into four sections.

It shows events at two locations, both of which BBC Verify has geolocated.

The first two sections of video show people surrounding two or more lorries just south of the Nabulsi roundabout.

The second two sections of video show events about 500m further south.

They show at least four static lorries. Again, people can be seen moving around them, but this time it is also possible to see what appear to be motionless figures lying on the ground.

This annotated screenshot of the IDF video highlights these figures with red squares.

It also shows what appear to be Israeli military vehicles nearby.

BBC Verify has asked the IDF for the complete footage of the incident.

Gunfire

We have examined exclusive Al Jazeera video filmed close to that second location at the rear of the convoy, about half a kilometre south of the roundabout.

Volleys of gunfire can be heard and people are seen scrambling over lorries and ducking behind the vehicles. Red tracer rounds can be seen in the sky.

Mahmoud Awadeyah said the Israeli vehicles had started firing at people when the aid arrived.

“Israelis purposefully fired at the men… they were trying to get near the trucks that had the flour,” he said. “They were fired at directly and prevented people to come near those killed.”

Aftermath

We have verified further footage filmed where the shooting occurred, of bodies being taken away on a cart north in the direction of Nabulsi roundabout.

There have been reports of casualties being taken to several hospitals.

Dr Mohamed Salha, interim hospital manager at al-Awda hospital, where many of the dead and injured were taken, told the BBC: “Al-Awda hospital received around 176 injured people…142 of these cases are bullet injuries and the rest are from the stampede and broken limbs in the upper and lower body parts.”

Israeli response

At 13:06 local time on Thursday, an IDF statement posted on Telegram stated: “Early this morning, during the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip, Gazan residents surrounded the trucks, and looted the supplies being delivered.

“During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling.”

At 15:35, a further IDF statement on X, formerly Twitter, repeated that description of the incident.

In further comments to the UK’s Channel 4 News, IDF spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said a “mob stormed the convoy bringing it at some stage to a halt.

“The tanks that were there to secure the convoy see the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tries to disperse the mob with a few warning shots.”

In a video statement posted on X at 20:35 GMT – 22:35 in Gaza and Israel – the IDF’s Daniel Hagari claimed: “Hundreds became thousands and things got out of hand.”

He said the tank commander decided to retreat to avoid harming civilians and “they were backing up securely, not shooting at the mob”.

And yet earlier, in an interview on CNN between 18:00 and 19:00 GMT, the Israeli prime minister’s special adviser, Mark Regev, said Israel had not been involved directly in any way and was not on the ground.

He said the IDF had opened fire in a separate incident not related to the lorries, but did not provide further evidence.

Mr Regev added: “In the incident of the truck being swarmed there was gunfire, that was Palestinian armed groups. We don’t know if it was Hamas or others.”

Leaders around the world have demanded an investigation into what happened.

It follows concerns raised on Tuesday by a senior UN official who warned that more than half a million people across the Gaza Strip faced catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

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