Dozens die in Gaza aid stampede as war-induced humanitarian crisis worsens


((JEWISH REVIEW)) — Dozens of Palestinians died during a stampede to access aid in Gaza City on Thursday, a tally that Hamas said numbered 104.

Hundreds of people were injured in the incident, including 10 whom the Israel Defense Forces said its soldiers had shot.

The incident is the most dramatic marker yet of a humanitarian crisis inside Gaza that is jeopardizing the lives of Palestinians, U.S.-Israel relations and a possible deal to free more of the Israelis who have been held hostage for nearly five months.

The stampede took place as an Israeli aid convoy reached Gaza City, according to Israeli media reports citing an initial IDF probe. About 300,000 people remain in the city months after the Israeli military completed its major operations there, a battle that sent most residents fleeing to the south.

The incident also took place just hours after the top administrator for the United States’ international development organization, Samantha Power, visited a Gaza border crossing to press for more aid to be distributed to Palestinians inside the territory. Israel placed Gaza under siege after Hamas, which has governed the territory since 2006, attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 and taking more than 250 hostages.

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both denounced the stampede, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ office calling it “an ugly massacre.” Hamas warned that it could lead to the failure of ongoing negotiations toward a ceasefire and hostage deal, which have progressed in recent days.

The Biden administration has for months expressed frustration with the amount of aid that Israel has let into Gaza and is reportedly exploring dropping aid into Gaza by air. The number of trucks entering the territory has declined in recent weeks. Israel says it would distribute more aid but cannot rely on the nonprofits tasked with delivering it. Israeli protesters pushing for harsher tactics in Gaza have also sought to prevent aid trucks from entering Gaza.

The interception of aid trucks has been an ongoing issue in Gaza. Reports suggest that Hamas members have sought to intercept aid and have also killed others who have done so.

United Nations officials said this week that nearly 600,000 Palestinians in Gaza are on the verge of famine and that nearly everyone in the territory is going without adequate food. Some children have starved to death, according to the Hamas-run health ministry and an essay in the New York Times on Thursday. Disease is also rampant in the tent cities that have sprung up to accommodate a population that has almost entirely been displaced from their homes.