Palestinian territory– Several recent developments confirm Israel’s full involvement in what has been dubbed the “Flour Massacre”, revealed Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor in a new statement, referring to the killing of Palestinian civilians attempting to receive humanitarian aid at dawn last Thursday. Euro-Med Monitor said that its ongoing investigations into the horrific incident at the Nabulsi roundabout, southwest of Gaza City, verify the Israeli army’s role in the massacre, citing evidence including the precise type of bullets used and reiterating calls for an effective international investigation to hold Israeli officials accountable. 

   Bullets were discovered and examined at the massacre site along with shrapnel found in the bodies of the wounded and dead.   

Many victims of the massacre suffered injuries from 5.56x45mm NATO bullets; this is a type of bullet fired from Israeli army weapons. A sample of 200 dead and injured victims revealed that they were indeed hit by this type of bullet, and that the bullets were discovered and examined at the massacre site along with shrapnel found in the bodies of the wounded and dead. 

   Bullets were discovered and examined at the massacre site along with shrapnel found in the bodies of the wounded and dead.   

Upon carrying out the requisite inquiry into this particular bullet type, Euro-Med Monitor discovered that it is discharged from assault rifles like the M4 and Tavor, along with machine guns (the light machine gun, or LMG) such as the IWI Negev. Additional analysis of this specific kind of ammunition revealed that 5.56x45mm ammunition is a basic FMJ bullet used by the Israeli army. It has a boxer primer, WC-844 powder (26.1 g), green steel tip and copper coating (62 grams (4.02 grams), average speed of 948 m/s (3,110 ft/s), and energy release of 1,797 J (1,325 ft/lbs.).

This type of bullet is imported from the United Kingdom on occasion, produced in 2020/2022, and licensed for use by the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The rights organisation added that this bullet is also manufactured in Israel by IMI SYSTEMS, formerly known as the Israeli Military Industries Company, which is a manufacturer of weapons, ammunition, and military technology, and regularly supplies them to the Israeli security forces, including the Israeli army. 

The testimony of Muhammad Yasser Washah, a 17-year-old resident of Gaza City’s Al-Sabra neighbourhood who was present at the Nabulsi roundabout during the massacre, was documented by Euro-Med Monitor. Washah stated that a bullet hit the bag of flour he was carrying, but that luckily, although it went through the bag, it became lodged in his jacket. After examining the bullet in question, Euro-Med Monitor discovered that its form and dimensions were identical to those of the bullet described above. Unlike other bullets with diametres of 5.56 mm, this one has an especially high ability to penetrate 3 mm of steel, despite not being considered armour-piercing.

According to recent testimonies documented by the rights group from other individuals present at the massacre, Israeli forces started directly shooting at civilians who were waiting for the aid at 4:10 a.m. on Thursday 29 February. At 5:30 a.m., the Israeli army raided the entire gathering, where many people were lying injured, killed, or were attempting to flee. Many people at the site were taken into custody, while others were forced to evacuate to the south of the Gaza Strip. Israeli forces directly executed others and left their bodies on a nearby beach.

“We were shocked when Israeli soldiers showed up and took a group of young men from Gaza [City],” an eyewitness who requested anonymity due to safety concerns told the Euro-Med Monitor team. “While the majority of them were fleeing to the beach, some were at the Nabulsi roundabout, others were evacuated to the south, and still others were killed and left on the beach.”

The eyewitness explained that the Israeli soldiers arrested a doctor, Muhammad Awad, and then released him: “After he moved several steps away, they opened fire on him and wounded him in the shoulder…We were under siege until 6:30 am, and the injured were pleading with us not to leave them…The food and flour were covered in blood when I left.”

“I am a volunteer paramedic,” said a second eyewitness, who also wished to remain anonymous due to safety fears. “In the hopes of receiving assistance, I went to the Nabulsi roundabout. As a precaution, I brought a first aid bag with me because I knew that similar incidents had resulted in shootings.”

Shortly before 4:30 am, the second witness told Euro-Med Monitor, the trucks passed the checkpoint and the Israeli army started firing, throwing stun grenades and smoke bombs. The tank then advanced, and the massacre occurred: “I treated several injured people with first aid. I discovered that some had suffered injuries to their chests, while others had suffered injuries to their limbs. While I was trying to pull out one of the injured people, the tank came forward, and I was forced to flee the scene.”

Added the second witness, “There was a large number of dead and injured people.”

In an earlier statement, the rights organisation said that its research teams had observed the event from the very first moments and recorded that Israeli tanks opened heavy fire on groups of Palestinian civilians attempting to receive humanitarian aid west and south of Gaza City. As a result, 112 civilians were killed and 760 were injured, while many victims are believed to remain in the targeted area.

The rights group highlighted four key pieces of evidence confirming the Israeli army’s full involvement in killing and wounding starving civilians, the first being the signs of injuries on the bodies of the dead and injured. The second piece of evidence is the footage released by the Israeli army itself, said Euro-Med Monitor, which includes audible evidence of gunfire emanating from Israeli tanks positioned near the coast.

Euro-Med Monitor also pointed to an aerial video published by the Israeli army, which, despite being heavily edited, captures the state of sheer panic and intimidation that struck all of the civilians present—including those relatively far away from the aid trucks—and pushed them to flee in all directions in order to seek shelter.

Euro-Med Monitor warned that the Israeli shooting of starving Palestinian civilians receiving aid has become a regular practice. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have directly attacked and killed dozens of people in Gaza City, including on Salah al-Din Street and in the vicinity of the Kuwait roundabout, where it has occurred no less than twice since the Flour Massacre. The most recent of these attacks was just last night, said the rights organisation, when many civilians were injured by Israeli violence near the Kuwait roundabout.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that starving the people of Gaza, killing the starving people, and obstructing the entry and distribution of humanitarian supplies, especially in Gaza City and the northern Strip, demonstrates Israel’s aim of forcibly displacing the Palestinian people there as part of its genocide, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

Euro-Med Monitor stressed that the Israeli army’s extrajudicial executions and intentional, illegal killings of Palestinian civilians who have not taken any part in hostilities amount to serious violations of international humanitarian law, and are war crimes and crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. These crimes, which Israel has been committing against the Gaza Strip’s people since 7 October, violate the right of Palestinians to life in accordance with international human rights law, and constitute acts of genocide.

The Geneva-based rights group urged the international community to force Israel to halt its starvation campaign against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in order to prevent the impending catastrophe of mass famine there, and to hold Israel accountable for its crimes and grave violations against the Strip and all of its Palestinian residents.

Euro-Med Monitor also called for more effective and decisive international intervention to ensure the safe, complete, and reliable delivery of humanitarian supplies to the Gaza Strip, without any hindrance, and thus guarantee the provision of and access to desperately needed basic services and humanitarian assistance for all affected people there.