‘Flour Bag Massacre’: ICJP appalled by “flagrant disregard for international law”

We are at loss for words, as no words exist for what we have seen this morning. Even in the context of the plethora of international law violations carried out by Israeli forces over the last few months, today’s events represent a new low. 

Earlier today, Israeli forces allegedly opened fire on starving Palestinian people who were queueing to receive humanitarian food aid, massacring at least 104 and injuring more than 760.

In one of the deadliest events of the last few months, the massacre is reported to have occurred at Al-Rashid Street to the west of Gaza City. 

Accounts show that a crowd was awaiting the delivery of food aid in the form of bags of flour, when they were targeted by tank shelling and sniper fire. 

Footage circulating online evidences a truck that was supposed to be carrying humanitarian aid instead transporting the dead and injured from the massacre.

The massacre occurred against a backdrop of purposeful restriction of aid and the decimation of the health infrastructure in Gaza.

Aid has been severely and inappropriately restricted in Gaza. 16 countries withdrew funding of the UN aid agency UNRWA, including the United Kingdom. This was because of allegations by Israel that UNRWA staff included Hamas operatives. Last week, a US intelligence report cast doubt on these allegations. 

However, funding remains withdrawn, which has hindered UNRWA’s capacity to operate.

A Human Rights Watch report released on 26th February found that Israel has obstructed the entry and distribution of aid to Gaza. 

In this context, the lack of aid has meant that the famine is an increasing risk. Meanwhile, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food Michael Fakhri said that Israel was deliberately starving Palestinians and constitutes a ‘situation of genocide.’

The casualties will also increase the burden on the health infrastructure in Gaza, which has already faced near decimation. 

The World Health Organisation said the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis is no longer functional, meaning the health infrastructure is now on the brink of collapse.

The massacre faced international criticism, including the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter, who said: “Murdering people queueing for essential humanitarian aid? This is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.”

Today is a dark day for humanity, stained not only with Palestinian blood, but stained with our collective shame, for having failed tens of thousands of Palestinian victims that have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli aggression and clear violations of international law.

We cannot allow international treaties since the Second World War to become senseless, meaningless rhetoric, but instead, they must be used immediately to prevent such flagrant loss of life and the senseless killing which continues through Gaza.

Israel with its allies, including the US, the UK and Germany, continue to show a despicable disregard for the value of human life. They now face a simple choice. They must decide whether they are going to immediately prevent further loss of life in Gaza, or whether they are going to continue to be complicit in the murder of thousands of Palestinians.


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