International Condemnations of Killings Near Gaza Aid Convoy Multiply

More governments issued condemnations on Friday after the deadly melee surrounding an aid convoy in northern Gaza, where scores of Palestinians were killed as Israeli forces opened fire in an incident whose precise details remain unclear.

The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, called the deaths “horrific” and called for an urgent investigation. “This must not happen again,” he said in a statement that stressed the inadequate quantities of aid reaching civilians and demanded that Israel open more aid crossings, speed up deliveries and increase protections for ordinary Palestinians, NGOs, medics and others providing help.

Mr. Cameron also called for an immediate pause in the fighting. “A sustained pause in the fighting is the only way to get lifesaving aid in at the scale needed and free the hostages cruelly held by Hamas,” he said.

The Indian government said in a statement that it was “deeply shocked at the loss of lives in northern Gaza yesterday during delivery of humanitarian assistance.”

“Such loss of civilian lives and the larger humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to be a cause for extreme concern,” it said. “We reiterate our call for safe and timely delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance.”

South Africa, whose government has been extremely critical of Israel’s military offensive against Hamas in Gaza, said it “condemns the massacre” of people “as they sought lifesaving aid.” The people who came under fire, South Africa said in a statement issued by its Department of International Relations and Cooperation, were “already vulnerable due to the onslaught on Palestinians over the last four months.”

The International Court of Justice, the U.N.’s highest court, heard arguments in January in a case brought by South Africa that accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, a charge Israel has strenuously denied. The court ordered Israel to take steps to prevent genocide and increase aid into Gaza, and last week Israel submitted a report to the judges on the steps it was taking to do so. The report has not been made public.

An Israeli military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, said that the convoy on Thursday was part of several days of humanitarian operations to distribute food supplies in Gaza that Israeli troops were overseeing.

On Thursday, other countries and organizations condemned the killings, including Saudi Arabia, the U.N. secretary general, Oxfam and the Israeli rights organization B’Tselem. A spokesman for the State Department said that the United States would be “pressing for answers” from Israel about the killings.

South Africa’s statement on Friday said that the killings showed that “legal remedies are not sufficient” to end what it says are atrocities against Palestinians in Gaza, and the country called on the international community to “consider other measures to end the unlawful actions of the Israeli government.”

“An immediate and unconditional call for a cease-fire is now a moral and lifesaving necessity,” the statement concluded.

Brazil’s government said that the shootings underscored that Israel’s “military action in Gaza has no ethical or legal limits. “It is up to the international community to stop it, and only then will we avoid new atrocities,” it said in a statement. “Every day we hesitate, more innocent people will die.”

Esther Bintliff and Jack Nicas contributed reporting.