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Nabulsi Roundabout Massacre: Evidence Points To Israeli Occupation Responsibility

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
News
4th March 2024
Nabulsi Roundabout Massacre: Evidence Points To Israeli Occupation Responsibility
An aerial view of the Al-Rashid Street massacre (Getty)

On February 29 at dawn, 30 trucks filled with humanitarian aid entered the besieged northern part of the Gaza strip through the Karem Abu Salem crossing. Thousands of starving residents awaited the trucks at the Nabulsi roundabout on coastal Al-Rashid Street. As they jostled for bags of flour, Israeli occupation tanks stood nearby, observing the aid delivery operation. However, they eventually opened fire on the crowd, resulting in dozens of casualties, with the toll continuing to rise.

Israeli forces commit a civilian massacre during humanitarian aid distribution
Israeli forces commit a civilian massacre during humanitarian aid distribution

Initially, the Israeli occupation army did not deny its involvement in what the Palestinian government media office termed a 'horrifying massacre.' The incident claimed the lives of at least 115 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. Subsequently, the Israeli occupation army adjusted its narrative, offering justifications that indicated both direct and indirect involvement in the incident.

A Conflicting Israeli Narrative on the Al-Rashid Street Massacre

Reuters quoted an unnamed Israeli official who claimed that dozens of Palestinians, among those who had stormed the aid trucks at the crossroads in Gaza City, were killed due to stomping and trampling. The official added that, following the advance of the trucks to the north, some individuals approached the Israeli occupation forces, who felt threatened and opened fire, killing an unknown number of them. The official described this response as 'limited,' casting doubts on the credibility of the numbers announced by the Health Ministry.

Israeli official acknowledges Israel's role in the Nabulsi roundabout massacre
Israeli official acknowledges Israel's role in the Nabulsi roundabout massacre

The Israeli Haaretz newspaper pointed, based on what it said was a preliminary investigation by the Israeli army, to two incidents. In the first, dozens were killed due to stomping and trampling, and in the second, armed individuals intercepted the truck convoy at The Rimal neighborhood, looted its contents, while the crowd approached the Israeli army units in the area. This led the latter to fire warning shots in the air from a ten-meter distance before they started shooting at the lower limbs of those who continued approaching them.

Haaretz reports Israeli army firing at Gaza residents during aid distribution
Haaretz reports Israeli army firing at Gaza residents during aid distribution

The Israeli narrative, however, changed later. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli army spokesperson, flatly denied that the occupation soldiers opened fire toward the aid convoy. He claimed that thousands of Gazans attacked the trucks, with some pushing and violently stomping others to death to loot humanitarian supplies.

Daniel Hagari denies Israeli forces targeting the humanitarian aid convoy at Nabulsi roundabout
Daniel Hagari denies Israeli forces targeting the humanitarian aid convoy at Nabulsi roundabout

The spokesperson said that the presence of Israeli tanks was to “secure the humanitarian corridor,” according to him. In this context, he showed an aerial shot in which an Israeli tank appeared to move in parallel to the path of one of the trucks, around which gathered individuals Hagari described as a gang.

The Israeli army spokesperson claimed that the tank saw the inhabitants facing stomping and tried 'carefully' to disperse the gang with a few warning shots before retreating after "the situation got out of control," according to him.

Misbar noticed that Hagari inferred the retreat of tanks 'carefully' from images he did not show. "Here you can see how careful they were when they retreated. As a military man, I believe that they retreated in a secure way and that they risked their lives when they did not fire at the gang," said Hagari without showing any images or aerial shots confirming his words.

Euro-Med Monitor Contradicts Occupation Army’s Narrative

Preliminary investigations by the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor point to the Israeli occupation's responsibility in the killing of dozens of Palestinians on Thursday, February 28, at dawn, as they received humanitarian aid to the west of Gaza City.

Euro-Med Monitor Contradicts Occupation Army’s Narrative

The Monitor reported that dozens of victims were shot when the occupation tanks unleashed heavy fire upon them. It highlighted four indications suggesting the Israeli army's involvement in targeting the starving civilians. The first indication was the signs of injuries on the bodies of the deceased and injured, as well as on flour bags and aid boxes, which one of the Monitor's researchers examined at Al-Shifa Hospital. Additionally, eyewitness videos capturing gunshots, reportedly from the occupation tanks stationed towards the sea, further supported this claim.

Upon analyzing the videos, the Monitor determined that the gunshots were fired from a 5.56 mm weapon commonly used by the Israeli army.

Furthermore, the Euro-Med Monitor scrutinized aerial shots released by the Israeli army, identifying at least two tanks and observing corpses and injured individuals on their paths. Notably, no corpses were visible on the route taken by the aid trucks.

Signs Show the Fragility of the Israeli Narratives

Misbar reviewed the aerial shots published by the Israeli army and confirmed the presence of individuals thrown on the ground on the tank's path, while the videos did not show any armed individuals in the area, contrary to the occupation army’s preliminary investigation. This implies that the Israeli narratives, though similar in claiming a threat to the soldiers, lack a solid foundation in reality.

The Israeli narrative also contradicts itself, pointing to the Israeli army targeting the lower limbs of residents, while the on-the-ground toll indicates over 100 Palestinian civilians killed and hundreds injured, facing treatment difficulties. The health situation in the Strip is 'tragic,' as stated by the World Health Organization, noting that all lifelines in the Gaza Strip were cut off in one way or another.

The Gaza Health Ministry announced that the last hospital in the north of the Strip, Kamal Adwan, was unable to provide life-saving services due to the fuel used for electricity being cut off. Videos showed residents and rescue teams transporting corpses and injured individuals on animal-drawn carts due to the insufficient ambulances to evacuate victims. Some corpses remain on Al-Rashid street due to the threat of being targeted by occupation forces if anyone attempts to pick them up.

Signs Show the Fragility of the Israeli Narratives

The deteriorating health situation in the Gaza Strip, especially in its northern part, makes all kinds of injuries life-threatening due to the absence of basic healthcare, proper nutrition, and hygiene conditions.

During his speech, Daniel Hagari pointed out that the night of the massacre was the fourth one in a row where aid was distributed to the residents of northern Gaza. What happened on Thursday at dawn was unprecedented, undermining the stampede excuse presented by the Israeli occupation, as no similar incidents occurred since aid started entering the Gaza Strip.

It is noteworthy that the occupation is responsible for organizing aid distribution operations and determining the time of entry, having withdrawn the prerogative to distribute and secure aid entry from UNRWA and the Gaza Strip police.

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