(CNN) — More than 100 people were killed in northern Gaza where Israeli troops opened fire, triggering panic as hungry Palestinian civilians were gathering around food aid trucks, Palestinian officials and eyewitnesses said.

People had swarmed around newly arrived aid trucks in western Gaza City in the hope of getting food, when Israeli forces started shooting, according to witnesses. Many of the victims died when they were run over by trucks, according to one account.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza said 104 were killed and more than 700 injured in the incident, one of the deadliest since the war in Gaza began. CNN is unable to independently confirm the figures and the Israeli military has given a different account of the circumstances.

In a briefing on Thursday, an Israeli military spokesperson said he couldn’t confirm the death toll. “I don’t have any figures,” he said, adding that “it was a limited response.”

The tragedy comes as the death toll in the Gaza war surpasses 30,000, more than a half a million people in Gaza are on the brink of famine, United Nations agencies say, and as negotiations between Israel and Hamas reach a potentially pivotal moment.

The incident unfolded early on Friday when a group of trucks carrying desperately needed aid arrived at Haroun Al Rasheed Street in western Gaza City, in the Sheikh Ajleen neighbourhood.

A local journalist in Gaza, Khadeer Al Za’anoun, who was at the scene and witnessed the incident, said large crowds had gathered waiting for food to be distributed from aid trucks. But he said that the chaos and confusion that led to people being hit by the trucks only started once Israeli forces opened fire.

Israel confirmed its forces fired on people, saying crowds had threatened their troops, but disputed the account given by the ministry.

In an initial account, Israel said Gaza residents surrounded the aid trucks and looted the supplies. “During the incident, dozens of Gazans were injured as a result of pushing and trampling,” the Israel Defense Forces told CNN.

An Israeli military spokesperson later said in a briefing that there were two separate incidents involving aid trucks.

First, he says trucks went to the north and were swarmed by crowds, with trucks running over people. Subsequently, he says, a group of Palestinians approached Israeli forces, who then opened fire on the Palestinians.

“The truckloads went into the north, then there was the stampede, and then afterwards, there was the event against our forces. That’s how things transpired this morning,” the spokesman said.

The IDF spokesperson Daniel Hargari said at a press conference Thursday there was no strike on the aid convoy. “I want to repeat that. No IDF strike was conducted towards the aid convoy. On the contrary the IDF was there conducting a humanitarian operation,” he said.

The death toll and number of injured is expected to increase as many bodies and people are still out on the street, with ambulances struggling to reach those in need because rubble is blocking the way, the spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent, Ahmad Abu Al Foul, told CNN.

It wasn’t immediately clear which country or countries had sent the aid trucks. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN the trucks were private vehicles carrying international aid supplied by governments, but did not specify which governments.

Aid deliveries have dwindled since Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza, leaving many in the already impoverished enclave on the brink of starvation. Drone footage taken by the IDF showed thousands of Palestinians gathering around the aid trucks in northern Gaza.

US President Joe Biden said his administration was still looking into the incident, but admitted it would complicate hostage and truce talks.

Having previously said a deal could be reached by the end of the weekend, he said “probably not by Monday but I’m hopeful.”

A senior Hamas member Ezzat Al-Risheq warned that the killings on Thursday could lead to the failure of the talks.

“Negotiations are not an open process,” he said in a statement published by Hamas on Telegram. “We will not allow for the pathway of the negotiations…[to become] a cover for the enemy’s continued crimes against our people in the Gaza Strip.”

Oxfam said the deaths will “only exacerbate an already critical humanitarian crisis.”

“I mean it’s absolutely appalling. These acts of violence against civilians that are desperate. And it’s clear from the aerial footage that these civilians are desperate,” Bushra Khalidi, Oxfam’s policy lead for the Occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, told CNN.

The incident comes as the death toll for those killed in Gaza since the October 7 attacks passed 30,000. Gaza’s health ministry does not distinguish between civilians and fighters but has said in recent updates that around 70% of the casualties are women and children.

The conflict in Gaza began when Hamas launched surprise cross-border attacks into Israel, killing at least 1,200 people and taking more than 250 others hostage.

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