Hamas health ministry says Israeli fire kills 20 Gazans waiting for aid

Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said early Friday that Israeli fire killed 20 people and wounded 155 waiting to receive desperately needed aid in the besieged territory.

Efforts mounted on Thursday to get more aid into the devastated Palestinian territory, where fighting still rages after mediators failed to reach a truce for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The health ministry said in a statement that citizens had gathered at a roundabout in Gaza City in the north when they were fired upon by Israeli forces, revising upward an initial toll of 11 killed and 100 wounded.

Mohammed Ghurab, director of emergency services at a hospital in northern Gaza, told AFP there were "direct shots by the occupation forces" on people who had gathered at the roundabout to wait for a food truck.

An AFP journalist on the scene saw several bodies and people who had been shot.

The Israeli military denied it had opened fire on the crowd of Gazans waiting for aid.

"Press reports that Israeli forces attacked dozens of Gazans at an aid distribution point are erroneous," it said in a brief statement, adding that it was "analyzing the incident seriously".

 'No alternative' 

U.N. agencies have warned of famine in Gaza, which Israel besieged after the unprecedented attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.

The humanitarian emergency has forced some countries to use airdrops and sea routes for aid supplies because of limited land access to Gaza via Jordan, Israel and Egypt.

The Spanish aid vessel Open Arms, towing about 200 tonnes of food, was nearing Israel's coast after departing Cyprus on Tuesday, the Marinetraffic website showed on Thursday.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos said a second, bigger...

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