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Macron calls for ceasefire

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The precise ratio of Gaza residents killed by stampede, gunfire, and being run over by aid trucks yesterday is largely beside the point; it’s all the foreseeable consequence of a collective punishment far beyond any legitimate military purpose:

The deaths of scores of Palestinians in a desperate rush for food aid in northern Gaza on Thursday was met with mounting international calls for a cease-fire and for Israel to take immediate measures to increase the flow of supplies into the territory.

The sequence of events leading up to the mass casualties, when local authorities said more than 100 people had died after Israeli soldiers opened fire at a crowd of thousands amassed near a convoy of aid trucks, remained unclear. Officials in Gaza and the Israeli military offered diverging accounts.

International leaders and aid groups said the disaster reinforced the need for an immediate halt in fighting to alleviate the human suffering that has no parallel in recent memory.

President Emmanuel Macron of France expressed on Friday “deep indignation” at the images emerging from the scene and called for an immediate cease-fire, saying, “Civilians have been targeted by Israeli soldiers.”

“I express my strongest condemnation of these shootings and call for truth, justice, and respect for international law,” he wrote on the social media site X.

The Gazan health ministry said Israeli forces had carried out a “massacre,” injuring 700 in addition to those killed. A spokesman for the Israeli military said that soldiers had fired warning shots into the air before opening fire “when the mob moved in a manner which endangered them.” The military said most of the deaths had been caused by a stampede and that people had also been run over by the aid trucks.

Videos of the predawn incident show people crawling and ducking for cover, and a hospital in Gaza City said it had received bodies of at least a dozen people with gunshot wounds and treated more than 100 people with gunshot wounds.

Samantha Power, the administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, a government agency, said that regardless of how they had died, it was clear that civilians were killed or injured while trying to get food for their families.

“That cannot happen,” she said. “Desperate civilians trying to feed their starving families should not be shot at.”

She urged Israel to open more border crossings to facilitate aid reaching northern Gaza and to ease customs restrictions that she said leave flour sitting in ports while people near starvation.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders said it hadn’t been able to reach its physicians and other staff working in northern Gaza because of unreliable communications but that irrespective of the details, the Israeli military was accountable.

This escalating humanitarian crisis is hard to fathom, and Biden should join Macron.

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