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Lack of Plan for Governing Gaza Formed Backdrop to Deadly Convoy Chaos

Israel’s reluctance to fill the current leadership vacuum in northern Gaza formed the backdrop to the chaos that led to the deaths on Thursday of dozens of Palestinians on the Gazan coast, analysts and aid workers have said.

More than 100 were killed and 700 injured, Gazan health officials said, after thousands of hungry civilians rushed at a convoy of aid trucks, leading to a stampede and prompting Israeli soldiers to fire at the crowd.

The immediate causes of the chaos were extreme hunger and desperation: The United Nations has warned of a looming famine in northern Gaza, where the incident occurred. Civilian attempts to ambush aid trucks, Israeli restrictions on convoys and the poor condition of roads damaged in the war have made it extremely difficult for food to reach the roughly 300,000 civilians still stranded in that region, leading the United States and others to airdrop aid instead.

But analysts say this dynamic has been exacerbated by Israel’s failure to set in motion a plan for how the north will be governed.

While southern Gaza is still an active conflict zone, fighting has mostly ebbed in the north of the enclave. The Israeli military defeated the bulk of Hamas’s fighting forces there by early January, leading Israeli soldiers to withdraw from parts of the north.

Now, those areas lack a centralized body to coordinate the provision of services, enforce law and order, and protect aid trucks. To prevent Hamas from rebuilding itself, Israel has prevented police officers from the Hamas-led prewar government from escorting the trucks. But Israel has also delayed the creation of any alternative Palestinian law enforcement.

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