Cease-Fire Demand Grows Amid Questions Around Gaza Aid Convoy Deaths

World leaders on Friday intensified their demands on Israel to get more aid into Gaza and provide more answers about the deaths of scores of Palestinians in a scene of chaos surrounding a humanitarian convoy its forces were securing.

Many questions remained unanswered as the Israeli military and Gazan officials offered divergent accounts of one of the deadliest known disasters involving civilians in the nearly five-month war. Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, called on the Israeli military to “fully explain” the killings in northern Gaza on Thursday and joined the calls for a cease-fire that would allow for the release of Israeli hostages and for more aid to enter the territory.

“People in Gaza are closer to death than to life,” she said on social media. “More humanitarian aid must come in. Immediately.”

France’s foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, called for an independent investigation and said the deadly chaos surrounding the convoy was the result of a humanitarian catastrophe that has left Gazans “fighting for food.”

“What is happening is indefensible and unjustifiable,” Mr. Séjourné told France Inter on Friday. “Israel must be able to hear it and it must stop.”

The disaster unfolded Thursday morning as thousands of hungry people gathered near a food convoy in Gaza City, with Israeli troops and tanks nearby. It was a scene increasingly common in Gaza, where Palestinians fighting starvation amid Israel’s war against Hamas are regularly massing around the relatively small number of aid trucks being allowed into the territory.

What happened next is still unclear. Gazan health officials say that Israeli troops fired on the crowd, killing more than 100 people and injuring 700 others in what they called “a massacre.” An Israeli military spokesman said that soldiers had opened fire “when the mob moved in a manner which endangered them.” The military said most of the deaths had been caused by trampling and that people had also been run over by the aid trucks.

Neither account could be independently verified, and partial drone video footage released by the Israeli military, along with social media videos of the scene analyzed by The New York Times, do not fully explain the sequence of events. Videos show people crawling and ducking for cover. A hospital in Gaza City said it had received bodies of at least a dozen people who had been shot and had treated more than 100 people with gunshot wounds.

An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, told Britain’s Channel 4 that soldiers had been providing security for the convoy, which involved private vehicles distributing food supplies from international donors. Israel has come under growing international pressure to facilitate more aid deliveries as groups including the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians — the main group distributing humanitarian supplies in Gaza — say it has become too lawless and chaotic to operate in much of the territory, especially the north.

Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said that regardless of how they had died, it was clear that people 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 Palestinian Foreign Ministry called on world leaders to impose sanctions on Israel to force it to protect civilians and ensure their humanitarian needs, arguing that it was obligated to do so under international law as an occupying power.

“They completely denied the truth of the massacre that they committed against unarmed civilians exhausted by hunger and thirst as a result of racist policies,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

Refugees International, an advocacy group, demanded an immediate independent investigation into the disaster and called on the United States to pause military aid to Israel until those responsible are held accountable.

“There is nothing that can justify the killing of civilians desperate to receive lifesaving relief for their families,” the group said in a statement.