Statement on Mass Killing at Gaza Aid Distribution 

Statement from Refugees International:  

“Refugees International is calling for an immediate independent investigation into the apparent mass killing of civilians today by the Israeli military during an attempted aid distribution in Gaza City. The United States should pause military assistance to Israel pending the completion of the investigation and accountability for those responsible.  

This incident bears the clear hallmarks of a war crime. There is no justification for the killing of civilians desperate to receive lifesaving relief for their families.  

The tragedy comes amidst a wider context of prolonged and intentional Israeli besiegement and collective punishment of Gaza’s civilians, particularly in Gaza City and other northern areas. Israel has strictly limited aid deliveries to the north for several months. As a result, one in four households in Gaza—around a half a million people—are experiencing catastrophic-level hunger. Gaza accounts for the “highest share of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity that the IPC initiative has ever classified for any given area or country.” A recent assessment shows that one in six children in the north face acute malnutrition, and 3 percent suffer from severe wasting. UNRWA reports that it has not been permitted to conduct a food distribution in the north since January 23. WFP announced on February 20 that it was temporarily suspending all deliveries to the north after its convoys were swarmed en route to delivery areas it had been prevented from accessing for weeks. Notably, this WFP incident did not produce a mass casualty event. 

This strategy of deprivation has produced growing desperation and numerous reports of public order breaking down. U.S. humanitarian envoy David Satterfield recently raised public concerns about the ability to safely distribute aid within Gaza.  

Meanwhile the IDF’s conduct in Gaza has created an atmosphere of impunity for violations of the laws of war. Large-scale killing of civilians has been normalized in the course of its military operations. IDF soldiers have posted countless photos and videos on social media of themselves mocking and humiliating the Palestinian population – many of which constitute war crimes evidence in their own right. Today’s violence occurs amid a consistent backdrop of undisciplined impunity. 

This tragedy is a direct and inevitable consequence of Israel’s approach to the war in Gaza. The Netanyahu government has pursued a strategy of deprivation, indifference to civilian harm, and impunity, all implemented by undisciplined forces. The only surprise is that a tragedy of this nature had not happened sooner.” 

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Etant Dupain at