BBC investigation challenges Israel narrative of Gaza flour massacre

Ahram Online , Sunday 3 Mar 2024

The BBC investigated the flour massacre that occurred in north Gaza early Thursday morning, revealing the inaccuracy of the Israeli army's narrative.

Palestinians stand amid the rubble of a Mosque that was destroyed in Israeli strikes in Deir El-Balah in central Gaza on March 2, 2024. Photo: AFP


BBC Verify, the BBC's fact-checking unit, meticulously examined key details surrounding the event. 

"We have examined social media videos, satellite imagery, and IDF drone footage to piece together what we know - and don't know - about what happened so far,” the broadcaster said.

At least 116 Palestinians were killed as crowds rushed around lorries delivering desperately needed food aid in the small hours of Thursday morning.

BBC checked the footage, posted on Instagram at 23:30 local time on Wednesday 28 February, showing some of the hundreds of people huddled around fires as they await a humanitarian aid shipment.

The video shows people camped out on Al-Rashid Street, the coast road to the southwest of Gaza City, an area that has been used recently as an aid distribution point. BBC said it previously verified video at that location showing people gathering around lorries to claim sacks of grain.


At about 04:00 local time on Thursday 29 February, a convoy of lorries carrying the aid from Egypt passes through an Israel army location, making its way north along Al-Rashid Street.

“The Israeli army says there were 30 lorries in the convoy, while an eyewitness told the BBC there were 18 - even at the lower figure, it would have stretched for at least a few hundred metres.” 

Israel has released edited aerial footage of the incident. It shows events at two locations, both of which BBC Verify has geolocated. The first two sections of the video show people surrounding two or more lorries just south of the Nabulsi roundabout.

The second two sections of the video show events about 500 metres south. They show at least four static lorries. Again, people can be seen moving around them, but this time it is also possible to see what appear to be motionless figures lying on the ground. It also shows what appear to be Israeli military vehicles nearby. 

BBC also examined exclusive Al Jazeera video filmed close to that second location at the rear of the convoy, about half a kilometre south of the roundabout.



The investigation identified sections where sounds of gunfire can be heard and people are seen scrambling over lorries and ducking behind the vehicles. Red tracer rounds can be seen in the sky. 

At 13:06 local time on Thursday, an Israeli army statement posted on Telegram stated: “Early this morning, during the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into the northern Gaza Strip, Gazan residents surrounded the trucks, and looted the supplies being delivered.” 

“During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling.”

At 15:35, a further Israeli army statement on X, formerly Twitter, repeated that description of the incident.

In further comments to the UK's Channel 4 News, Israel's army spokesman Col Peter Lerner said a “mob stormed the convoy bringing it at some stage to a halt.”

"The tanks that were there to secure the convoy see the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tries to disperse the mob with a few warning shots." 

In a video statement posted on X at 22:35 local time, the IDF's Daniel Hagari claimed: “Hundreds became thousands and things got out of hand.”

He said the tank commander decided to retreat to avoid harming civilians.

"They were backing up securely, not shooting at the mob". 

Yet, earlier in an interview on CNN between 18:00 and 19:00 GMT, the Israeli prime minister's special adviser, Mark Regev, said Israel had not been involved directly in any way and was not on the ground.

He said the IDF had opened fire in a separate incident not related to the lorries, but did not provide further evidence.

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