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Relief convoy in Gaza turns deadly, survivors escape with bloodied bags of flour

I saw broken hearts, agonizing screams shattering the peace, and the tragic sight of victims strewn around as survivors carried bags of flour tainted with blood on their burdened shoulders.

  • 3 weeks ago
  • May 3, 2024
5 min read
As Israel's invasion of Gaza continues, the threat of famine and the struggle to find food looms over everyone. Children can be seen lined up for food distribution. | Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Abu Hamda As Israel's invasion of Gaza continues, the threat of famine and the struggle to find food looms over everyone. Children can be seen lined up for food distribution. | Photo courtesy of Mahmoud Abu Hamda
Mohamed Nazik Al-Amari
JOURNALIST’S NOTES
INTERVIEW SUBJECT
Mohamed Nazik Al-Amari is a young man in his twenties hailing from Beit Lahia in northern Gaza. He pursued a law degree at Al-Azhar University but faced obstacles that prevented him from finishing his studies, particularly due to the harsh conditions in Gaza. Mohamed witnessed a devastating incident in Gaza, where more than 100 individuals lost their lives while seeking food from a humanitarian aid convoy.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The incident on February 29, 2024, in Gaza, where a large number of Palestinian casualties occurred, has been met with international concern. Reports indicate that at least 112 Palestinians were killed and 760 injured while gathered around a convoy delivering essential aid. The Israeli military stated that the casualties were not due to direct fire but rather to panic and accidents, such as being trampled or run over. They claim to have only fired warning shots. A subsequent UN Security Council meeting of Algeria – representing the Arab body – they blamed Israeli forces for opening fire.

GAZA CITY, Gaza — On February 29, 2024, a youth group informed me of a significant relief convoy. It would start from the Nabulsi roundabout area on Al-Bahr Street coming into Gaza City. The convoy brought essential supplies toward the Gaza port. Determined to secure food, I joined the people gathering there. I arrived around 3:00 p.m. and witnessed a shocking scene. Thousands of people waited eagerly for the distribution of vital aid. Among other necessities, the aid trucks carried flour, a crucial ingredient for those in dire circumstances.

The sharp sting of hunger pressed heavily upon us as we waited for hours under the scorching sun. When the trucks finally arrived, a sense of urgency swept through the crowd, and people rushed toward the loaded trucks. What followed proved horrifying: Israeli gunfire targeted us. In the chaos, I found myself surrounded by scattered debris. I moved through a sea of individuals desperately trying to escape the relentless attack. Each person I encountered carried a heavy burden. They carried bags of flour stained with the blood of their fellow Gazans. It served as a grim reminder of the brutality we face.

[Israeli and Palestinian authorities offered differing accounts of the incident. In the aftermath, CNN conducted a thorough investigation of all available footage, eyewitness accounts, and reports. In their reporting, it appears that the Israeli tanks did fire on the aid trucks and those gathered. A stampede took place and many died from being trampled or run over by the aid trucks attempting to escape. Others, however, did come to the hospital with bullets or shrapnel in their bodies. Further, the CNN review of footage shows hundreds not thousands around the aid truck. Yet, some media reports indicate that thousands were in the vicinity.]

Read more stories from Gaza at Orato World Media.

Relief convoy in Gaza becomes a death trap for residents

In our quest to obtain something as basic as bread, a cruel and unforgiving attack stripped us of loved ones. It shook us to our core. As we hurried to get supplies from the relief convoy, the loud sounds of artillery shells falling around us felt like fatal destruction.

In those harrowing moments, I saw people’s broken hearts. Their agonizing screams shattering our peace. As residents ran carrying bloodied bags of flour on their burdened shoulders, victims lay strewn everywhere. Even amidst this harsh reality, thousands of people grasped at a glimmer of hope. They sought to secure a small amount of sustenance to survive another day.

With patience in their souls, they remained resolute in their determination to grab the flour that would produce life-sustaining bread. Those who lived either went home empty-handed with nothing for their young, loved ones or they carried flour mixed with human blood. Following this tragic incident, more crucial aid was withheld, leaving us in a precarious position. Each day in Gaza presents new obstacles, testing our resilience and determination.

Despite our inherent goodness and the strengths of the citizens of Gaza, we struggle with a lack of opportunity that could pave the way for a better tomorrow. I share this story with sorrow and a sense of helplessness, as we continue to endure daily trials. The future remains uncertain, and the depth of suffering in Gaza is beyond imagination. We urgently require support and assistance during these challenging times.

Tragic reality: hunger, destruction, and despair in northern Gaza

My experience on February 29 was not a nightmare, nor a scene from a horror or war movie. It represented the cruel, bitter truth of our daily lives, forcing itself into reality. Before we fell into the deadly trap that is now our homeland, we already faced heartbreaking situations. Now, the essential foundation of our lives has disappeared, leaving us in despair and crushing our hopes. The simple task of securing daily nourishment now proves impossible for many.

Our entire community needs help to get food, medicine, and shelter. As the holy month of Ramadan began, a time for fasting and introspection, we recognized that the community of Gaza has already been living this fast for five long months. Hunger remains a relentless companion for many of us. Furthermore, we face dire conditions, unlike any we experienced before. For over 150 days, an unending oppression destroyed our homes, facilities, and infrastructure.

I see profound suffering and extreme poverty everywhere. Alarmingly, 90 percent of the population lacks the essentials needed to survive, beginning with food. Though these are strong people, I watch Gazans facing a state of severe famine and shortage. It is worsened by the constant threat of frequent Israeli military operations that cast a shadow over our existence.

I often ask myself, “How could such a tragic and incomprehensible event happen to us; to people who embody peace and civility? How much longer must we endure such tragedies? Where will these challenging circumstances lead us?”

When I think about days like the February 29 attack on the convoy, I feel deep sadness and bitterness.

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