Palestinian Territory - The Israeli army is yet again attempting to evade responsibility for massacring Palestinian civilians who were waiting for aid supplies. Israel’s most recent “flour massacre” occurred last night near the Kuwait roundabout on the outskirts of Gaza City, and left more than 80 dead and 200 injured, a number of whom are in critical condition.

Israel’s army has released a video clip featuring an armed individual, in an attempt to claim that Palestinian gunmen were responsible for the deaths of the recent massacre victims. The clip in question does not validate the Israeli army’s assertion, however. In contrast, four pieces of evidence have surfaced during Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor’s initial investigations into the crime and clip released by the Israeli army, with the evidence confirming that the dead and wounded victims of this massacre were not shot by the gunfire that appears in this clip.

Judging by the Israeli army’s video, the shooting incident appears to have taken place somewhere other than the massacre site. Specifically, the gunman was firing close to the Dawla roundabout, southeast of Gaza City, which is roughly two kilometres from the Kuwait roundabout, where the massacre took place. 

   We were exposed to live fire and artillery shells, despite standing in the designated area for aid distribution.   

Ibrahim Al-Najjar, survivor of the flour massacre

 

Secondly, an analysis of several victims of the most recent flour massacre indicates that they were shot with 5.56 x 45mm NATO bullets, which are discharged from Israeli army-issued weaponry. Some of the bullets found in bodies of the wounded and dead are the same type of bullet that was found at the scene of the first flour massacre, which happened on 29 February 29 and resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths.

The Israeli army’s recently-released video makes it abundantly evident that only one person was involved in the depicted incident, and that he was shooting in the air, presumably in an effort to deter civilians from approaching an area where Israeli military vehicles are stationed. The clip also shows that, despite the shooting, no one nearby fell down, as no bodies or injured people are visible in the footage. This is clear in the 21st second of the video, when the man starts shooting in what appears to be the direction of another man standing right in front of him. Undoubtedly unharmed, this other man continues to march through the crowds, showing no signs of fear or confusion.

Lastly, the footage that the media and eyewitnesses released following the massacre demonstrates the huge damage and destruction that was left at the site. This degree of damage and destruction cannot be caused by the gunshots fired by the person shown in the Israeli army’s video.

This evidence complements the testimonies recorded by Euro-Med Monitor from injured people and witnesses who had been in the vicinity of the Kuwait roundabout during the latest massacre. Those interviewed all confirmed that they were subjected to artillery shells and machine gun fire from helicopters, quadcopter drones, and tanks.

According to survivor Ziad Saeed Madoukh, who was injured, the Israeli army opened fire on the crowd once the aid trucks reached the Kuwait roundabout. Even after some of the aid was distributed, Israeli forces kept shooting at the crowd, with the apparent intention of killing the starving people.

Ibrahim Al-Najjar, another survivor, told Euro-Med Monitor that he tried to get a bag of flour for his children. Al-Najjar stated that he and the others were exposed to live fire and artillery shells, despite standing in the designated area for aid distribution.

The Israeli army cannot evade responsibility over the atrocity that occurred on Thursday night—or the other “flour massacres” that have been repeated on an almost daily basis against Palestinian civilians trying to obtain aid—by saying that its forces “did not open fire towards the aid convoy on the Kuwait roundabout”, while at the same time announcing that it is conducting its own investigation into the incident. Initial investigations, witness and injured testimonies, and field data all point to the Israeli army’s intention to keep killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza City and the Strip’s north who are trying to receive humanitarian supplies amid the starvation campaign being experienced by the besieged enclave.

The video clip does not absolve the Israeli army of its crime, particularly given the fact that the clip’s date as well as the identity of the armed person in the footage are still unknown. Under no circumstances should the Israeli army’s footage be considered valid and credible; this is not just because Israel has repeatedly published heavily-edited footage to exonerate itself of crimes it commits, but since the clip has not been examined by an independent external investigation body that has full access to the army’s information. If Israel’s footage is accepted without question, we are again left with a ludicrous situation in which its army is simultaneously the victim, investigator, and judge.

The Israeli army has frequently released manipulated footage to support its targeting of Palestinian civilians. On 3 March, for example, it released a video clip accusing two individuals in Gaza of having rocket-propelled grenades.

Starving Gazans by obstructing the entry and distribution of humanitarian supplies, especially to Gaza City and the northern Strip, and then killing these starving people, demonstrates Israel’s aim of forcibly displacing the Palestinians there as part of its genocide, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

The Israeli measures and collective punishment of residents of the Gaza Strip clearly and directly aim to starve the entire population and expose all Palestinians there to the actual risk of death. Israel uses starvation not only as a tool of war—a war crime in itself—but also as part of the crime of genocide that it has been committing against the Strip’s residents for five months now.

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.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor renews its calls on the international community to force Israel to halt its starvation campaign against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in order to prevent an 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.

The Geneva-based organisation also calls for more effective and decisive international intervention to ensure the safe, complete, and reliable delivery of humanitarian supplies to the 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.