Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardments of...

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip in front of the morgue of the Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, on Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024. Credit: AP/Adel Hana

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed and over 70,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip since the Israel's war on Hamas began nearly five months ago, health officials in the territory said.

On Thursday, Palestinian witnesses say Israeli troops opened fire on a crowd of people scrambling for aid in Gaza City. More than 100 people were killed and at least 700 wounded, according to Palestinian witnesses and Gaza's Health Ministry.

Israel said many of the dead were trampled in a chaotic stampede for the food aid and that its troops only fired when they felt endangered by the crowd.

Israel's war against Hamas has created a humanitarian catastrophe throughout the Gaza Strip and devastation in northern areas like Gaza City, which are largely cut off from the rest of the territory with little aid entering.

The U.N. says a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians face starvation; around 80% have fled their homes.

The war began after Hamas-led militants stormed across southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 others hostage.

Currently:

Israeli soldiers stand on their tank in a staging area...

Israeli soldiers stand on their tank in a staging area near the Israel-Gaza border in southern Israel, Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. Credit: AP/Tsafrir Abayov

— Israel-Hamas war brings painful memories for Argentine Jewish community long after 1994 bombing

— Palestinian-American woman who faces trial in Israeli military court is released on bail

— Aid groups appeal to the EU to release urgent funds for Palestinian refugee agency

— Journalism leaders express support for media covering the war

Israeli female soldiers pose for a photo on a position...

Israeli female soldiers pose for a photo on a position on the Gaza Strip border, in southern Israel, Monday, Feb. 19, 2024. Israel and Hamas are inching toward a new deal that would free some of the roughly 130 hostages held in the Gaza Strip in exchange for a weeks-long pause in the war, now in its fifth month. A deal would bring some respite to desperate people in Gaza, who have borne a staggering toll in the war, as well as to the anguished families of hostages taken during Hamas' Oct. 7 attack that sparked the war. Credit: AP/Tsafrir Abayov

— Find more of AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's the latest:

U.N. COUNCIL DOESN'T AGREE ON STATEMENT BLAMING ISRAEL FOR GAZA CITY DEATHS

UNITED NATIONS — Arab nations have failed to get immediate support for a U.N. Security Council statement that would have blamed Israeli forces for opening fire at Palestinians waiting for the delivery of food and other humanitarian aid near Gaza City and killing over 100 people.

Witnesses said Israeli troops fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy on Thursday. More than 100 people were killed in the chaos, bringing the death toll since the start of the Israel-Hamas war to over 30,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian U.N. ambassador, told reporters after an emergency closed council meeting on the killings late Thursday that 14 of the 15 council members supported the statement put forward by Algeria, the Arab representative on the body.

The United States didn’t support the statement and U.S. deputy ambassador Robert Wood told a reporter who questioned why, “We don’t have all the facts on the ground – that’s the problem.”

He said there are contradictory reports and the U.S. is trying to gather all the facts, including on the “circumstances around how people died” which is a key issue.

Wood said diplomats were working “to see if we can find some language that everyone can agree on,” and an agreement could come Thursday night or not at all.

PALESTINIAN U.N. AMBASSADOR SAYS ISRAEL DELIBERATELY SHOT PEOPLE IN AID CONVOY VIOLENCE

UNITED NATIONS – The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. is accusing Israel of “deliberately and systematically” targeting a humanitarian convoy, saying according to his information dozens of the 112 Palestinians killed were shot in the head.

Riyad Mansour told reporters ahead of a closed emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council late Thursday afternoon that according to his information every few days trucks with humanitarian supplies including flour, sugar and other basic necessities traveled to the same place in northern Gaza to give desperately needed help to Palestinians in need.

He said the trucks did the same thing earlier Thursday, and thousands of Palestinians were there. “And then all of a sudden, the Israel army started firing at them and shooting, and according to the information that we have, dozens of them have bullets in their heads,” he said. There has been no independent confirmation of this claim.

“It’s not like, you know, firing in the sky to restrain people if there was confusion and chaos,” Mansour said. “It was intentionally targeting and killing, and the number that we have now is 112 have been killed and the number is increasing, and 750 injured, and possibly the number would be increasing.”

Mansour said he met U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield and implored her to support a U.N. Security Council statement condemning the killings and urging that those responsible be found and held accountable.

UNITED NATIONS CHIEF SAYS HE'S SHOCKED BY GAZA DEATH TOLL AND KILLINGS NEAR AID TRUCK

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is “appalled” that 30,000 people have been killed by the war in Gaza and condemned Thursday's killing of more than a hundred people seeking life-saving aid, his spokesperson said.

Witnesses say Israeli troops fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy in Gaza City on Thursday. More than 100 people were killed in the chaos, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters this was not a U.N. convoy and “there was no U.N. presence there,” so it is trying to determine the facts.

“These people died because humanitarian aid has not been able to be delivered in a safe manner,” Dujarric said. Whether they died or were wounded by Israeli gunfire, were crushed by a crowd or run over by trucks, “these are all acts of violence in a sense due to this conflict.”

Dujarric said the United Nations hasn’t been able to deliver aid to northern Gaza for more than a week because of the ongoing conflict and lack of safety for humanitarian staff and the people receiving aid.

“We want to see an immediate humanitarian cease-fire so that we can distribute aid in an organized, predictable and safe manner which is currently not an option for us,” he said.

Guterres reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire and release of all hostages taken captive during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in southern Israel, Dujarric said.

GERMANY PLEDGES ANOTHER 20 MILLION EUROS IN AID TO GAZA

BERLIN — Germany will increase its humanitarian aid for Gaza by 20 million euros, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Thursday night. She called on Israel to “immediately” allow more aid into Gaza and make sure that aid can also be distributed.

Baerbock added that if not enough aid was able to get into Gaza by trucks, Germany would cooperate with Jordan to airlift aid into Gaza.

Her statement didn’t specify the total amount of aid Germany has promised for Gaza. The website of the German Foreign Office says it has given 138 million euros of humanitarian aid since Oct. 7 to the Palestinian Territories, which would include aid for the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

U.S. SENATORS ASK BIDEN TO SEND HOSPITAL SHIP TO GAZA AND OPEN SEA ROUTE FOR AID

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate’s armed services committee has asked President Joe Biden to deploy a military hospital ship and support units to treat Gaza’s wounded and help establish a sea route for delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Chairman Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, made the request in a letter to the White House Wednesday night. Sen. Angus King, a political independent from Maine and another senior member of the armed services committee, joined in the request.

Despite U.S. appeals to Israel, Gaza residents trapped in the conflict between Israel and Hamas continue to suffer without adequate medical care, food and other aid, the senators said.

“Consequently, we urge you to take additional steps to deliver humanitarian aid by deploying a U.S. Navy hospital ship and support elements to the region and by working with the Israeli and Egyptian governments to establish maritime logistics routes and ensure civilian access to aid,” the senators wrote.

The two acknowledged the risks but said the U.S. military was best-equipped to handle them. The deployments “would bring immense capacity to bear off the coast of the Gaza strip.” they wrote the White House. “It would be a visible embodiment of America’s commitment to the humanitarian challenges of the region.”

The U.S. has two dedicated hospital ships, the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort. Each has a suite of advanced medical facilities, including scores of intensive care unit beds, blood banks and operating rooms.

BIDEN SAYS CEASE-FIRE DEAL ‘PROBABLY’ NOT DONE BY NEXT WEEK

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Thursday that a deal to pause fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and release some hostages held by the militant group would “probably” not be done by Monday. His comments at the White House came days after he said he hoped to have an agreement in place by the end of the upcoming weekend.

“Hope springs eternal,” Biden told reporters on the South Lawn before departing for Texas, where he is to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. “I was on the telephone with people from the region. Probably not by Monday, but I’m hopeful.”

The White House later said the president had spoken by phone Thursday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. The calls focused on the war in Gaza and cease-fire negotiations, as well as plans to get more humanitarian aid into the besieged territory.

Biden and the two leaders emphasized in their calls how “the release of hostages would result in an immediate and sustained cease-fire in Gaza over a period of at least six weeks,” a White House statement said.

Biden also said the U.S. was still trying to determined what happened in Gaza City on Thursday, where witnesses say Israeli troops fired on a large crowd of Palestinians racing to pull food off an aid convoy. Biden said the loss of life would complicate ongoing talks to free hostages and pause fighting between Israel and Hamas.

“We’re checking it out right now,” Biden told reporters. “There’s two competing versions of what happened. I don’t have an answer yet.”

PALESTINIAN SHOOTING ATTACK IN WEST BANK KILLS 2 ISRAELIS

JERUSALEM — Two Israelis were killed in a Palestinian shooting attack at a gas station in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, the Israeli military said.

The Israeli military said one attacker was killed after opening fire at the gas station near the Jewish settlement of Eli, and that Israeli forces were searching the area for additional suspects.

Paramedics pronounced a 57-year-old man and another in his 20s dead at the scene, one in a vehicle and another nearby, the Magen David Adom medical agency said in a statement. It said a civilian shot and killed the attacker.

SAUDI ARABIA, EGYPT AND JORDAN CONDEMN ISRAEL FOR FIRING ON CROWD IN NORTHERN GAZA

BEIRUT — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan’s foreign ministries condemned Israel for its forces firing on a large crowd of Palestinians trying to get aid in northern Gaza, which the three Arab governments called an attack targeting civilians.

The three foreign ministries in separate statements called for increased safe passages to deliver humanitarian aid and for the international community to take decisive action to pressure Israel to abide by international law and to reach an agreement for an immediate ceasefire.

ISRAELI OFFICIALS SAY TROOPS SHOT INTO CROWD OF PALESTINIANS SEEKING FOOD AID IN NORTHERN GAZA

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli officials have acknowledged that troops opened fire on a large crowd of Palestinians who had converged on an aid convoy as it entered northern Gaza.

The officials insisted on anonymity to give details about what happened early Thursday. They said troops opened fire after the crowd approached the soldiers in a threatening way.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says 104 people were killed and 760 wounded. Palestinian witnesses told The Associated Press that troops shot at the crowd and a tank opened fire.

The Israeli military said in a statement that “dozens were killed and injured from pushing, trampling and being run over by the trucks.”

The military also circulated aerial footage showing hundreds of people crowding around trucks, saying it showed that the deaths and injuries were caused by the crowd itself. It was not clear from the footage if anyone was being trampled.

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