Geneva - The Israeli army is not only starving Palestinians in the northern Gaza Valley, but has also killed dozens of individuals who tried to receive the meagre aid that did arrive there, perpetuating the genocide that Israel has been committing against the people of the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said in a statement on Tuesday.

   “Out of nowhere, an Israeli army tank emerged from behind a mound of sand and opened fire at random,” M.D. told the Euro-Med Monitor team. “We were attacked by two quadcopters at the same time; I observed a pair of them. Everybody in front was hurt or killed. In a matter of seconds, at least 50 people were killed and numerous others injured.   

M.D. 27-year-old

Euro-Med Monitor has documented shocking testimonies of the Israeli army killing and injuring dozens of Palestinians on Thursday 11 January 2024 on Al-Rashid Street, in the west of Gaza City, who were trying to receive humanitarian aid. The human rights organisation demanded that the involved United Nations agencies be held accountable for their failure to guarantee suitable channels for providing the populace with humanitarian aid.

According to the testimonies, Israeli quadcopter drones opened fire on Palestinians who had gathered to receive flour brought by UN trucks. Fifty Palestinians were killed and dozens more were injured during the incident. Testimonies gathered by Euro-Med Monitor indicate that dozens of residents gathered on Al-Rashid Street, which had been devastated by Israeli bulldozers in recent weeks, awaiting the arrival of the trucks carrying flour. The quadcopter drones arrived suddenly, however, and started shooting at the residents.

The surviving residents fled the area and managed to transfer the wounded, while the dead remained on the ground. Later that day, the trucks arrived, and hundreds of residents gathered again in the hope of receiving a share of flour, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Valley are currently starving for the fourth consecutive month now.

Based on the testimonies received by Euro-Med Monitor, residents were forced to travel up to 10 kilometres to reach the area, while there was no order for aid distribution amid fears of reported casualties as a result of the severe crowding that occurred in the area after the trucks arrived.

Euro-Med Monitor stated that residents transported the dead individuals on animal-drawn carts, hours after their killing.

Twenty-seven-year-old A.F., who requested that their full name be withheld due to safety concerns, spoke with the Euro-Med Monitor team about the 11 January incident. “My brother and I went with a number of neighbours to Al-Rashid Street,” A.F. said. “After walking for five kilometres, we found people gathering and heading south, so we walked with them towards the road where the flour-carrying trucks were expected to arrive.

“Suddenly, quadcopters appeared and started shooting at us randomly. I saw many people falling to the ground. As soon as I felt the bullets next to me, I ran from the area. Later, I discovered that two of my neighbours were wounded.”

Continued A.F., “We are really starving. Neither flour nor any other food items are present. A bag of flour that previously sold for roughly 40 shekels [about $10.8 USD] is now sold for more than 600 shekels [about $162 USD] if it is available, which is frequently not the case.” 

Twenty-seven-year-old M.D., (who also requested that their full name be withheld, due to safety concerns), told Euro-Med Monitor that they began travelling to Al-Rashid Street at nine in the morning with their two cousins after hearing that flour trucks would be arriving. “It took us an hour to get there,” explained M.D., “as the streets were completely destroyed. After walking for five kilometres, we saw hundreds of people waiting and strolling along Al-Rashid Street. We arrived to a point after the Nabulsi roundabout, close to the coastal point.

“Out of nowhere, an Israeli army tank emerged from behind a mound of sand and opened fire at random,” M.D. told the Euro-Med Monitor team. “We were attacked by two quadcopters at the same time; I observed a pair of them. Everybody in front was hurt or killed. In a matter of seconds, at least 50 people were killed and numerous others injured. We took off running, through destroyed stores, down smaller streets between the houses on Al-Rashid Street, and anywhere else we thought would be safe from gunfire.

“Around 11:30 a.m.,” stated M.D., “I came back along with some others. When we spotted the trucks, we took off running in their direction. There were four trucks full of medicines, canned goods, and flour. People descended on the trucks while they were still moving, and some of them fell.

“I saw two people falling under a truck’s tires and being run over...if there was an order for distributing flour it would have been better, [given] the chaos and death we are living in. I am not ready to go back and take [flour] since seeing death with my own eyes.”

Residents reportedly gathered over the course of the next few days as word spread about the arrival of additional aid trucks. Hundreds had gathered on Al-Rashid by 7 a.m. on 14 January and were soon being fired upon by Israeli drones.

38-year-old M.D, (who coincidentally shares the aforementioned individual’s initials), informed the Euro-Med Monitor team that the quadcopters arrived that day at 11 a.m. and fired at the crowd “for an hour and a half, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries.” No aid trucks had arrived by that time, M.D. revealed. He said that his 18-year-old son had also gone to the area and had waited hours for a single truck to arrive, and then attempted to reach it along with hundreds of other residents but was trampled and passed out. “He was unable to receive any amount of flour,” M.D. confirmed, “due to the cruel and faulty distribution order.”

Based on official Israeli statements and testimonies, plus data gathered by Euro-Med Monitor’s team on the ground in the Gaza Strip, Israel is using starvation as a political pressure tactic and a weapon in its war against Palestinian civilians. This constitutes a crime of genocide, the rights group contended, and called for immediate action to ensure that Palestinians in the Strip can access food, drink, and basic necessities without hindrance, intimidation, or targeting.

Euro-Med Monitor said it holds the UN and its humanitarian agencies accountable for their inability to provide adequate humanitarian aid in a dignified manner to the hundreds of thousands of residents who are experiencing true hunger for the fourth consecutive month, as well as for their silence on the Israeli army's killing of Palestinian civilians attempting to receive aid.

United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric has been quoted as saying that only three out of the 21 planned aid deliveries of food, medicine, water, and other life-saving supplies to the north of Wadi Gaza were able to proceed between 1 and 10 January. These included multiple missions to provide medical supplies to Gaza City and fuel to water and sanitation facilities in Gaza City and the north, Dujarric said, adding that the planned deliveries were denied by the Israeli authorities. 

Dujarric pointed out that the UN’s ability to respond to the extensive needs of the civilian population in the northern part of Gaza is being curtailed by recurring denials of aid access and lack of coordinated, safe access by Israeli authorities. He warned that these denials and severe access constraints are paralysing the ability of humanitarian partners to respond meaningfully, consistently, and at scale.

Euro-Med Monitor emphasised that Dujarric’s statement does not absolve the UN of responsibility for what is happening, as it is clearly submitting to the Israeli military’s plans and conditions and cited the Israeli legal team’s spouting of propaganda during its plea before the International Court of Justice last week. Israel falsely claimed to have facilitated the passage of humanitarian aid and the arrival of a UN delegation to the north of Wadi Gaza.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor further emphasised that international humanitarian law strictly prohibits the use of starvation as a weapon of war. As an occupying power, Israel is obligated under international humanitarian law to provide basic needs and protection to the Gazan people.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that intentionally starving civilians by “depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies” is a war crime, said the Geneva-based rights group. 

According to Euro-Med Monitor, Israel has been committing acts of genocide against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023 according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and pertinent international judicial rulings. These actions include depriving the civilian population of enough potable water and food, which has seriously harmed them and trapped them in living conditions meant to actually destroy them.