Israelis attack aid convoys sent to Palestinians

Paul Adams,diplomatic correspondent

Watch: Israeli protesters trample aid packages destined for Gaza

The war in Gaza is being fought on many fronts.

One of them is help.

Months after some Israelis began protesting against aid trucks entering Gaza at the main Kerem Shalom crossing, the battle has moved to other key crossings, where rival groups of activists are doing everything they can to block or protect the aid convoys.

In recent weeks, social media has been flooded with images of blocked and looted aid trucks.

Right-wing activists, including Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, have uploaded dozens of videos of crowds, including some very young children, throwing food on the ground and trampling on aid boxes.

“It is important to stop the aid,” says one activist. “It’s the only way to win. The only way to get our hostages back.”

Many argue that Gazans should receive nothing while Israeli hostages remain in captivity, and that providing aid to Gaza simply serves to prolong the war.

In one video, a group of jubilant protesters dance and celebrate on top of a looted truck.

In another, one of the stranded trucks is on fire.

Other videos show Israeli vigilantes stopping trucks in Jerusalem and demanding that drivers show documents proving they are not transporting aid to Gaza. They have their faces uncovered and seem to act with total impunity.

In the West Bank, at least two drivers not transporting goods bound for Gaza were pulled from their taxis and beaten.

Palestinian truck drivers say they are traumatized.

“I’m afraid to reach the crossing point,” Adel Amro told the BBC.

“I fear for my life.”

Amro was transporting commercially purchased goods from the West Bank to Gaza when it was attacked. Other targeted drivers are involved in transporting aid from Jordan, which has to cross the West Bank and Israel before reaching Gaza.

“Now we are taking secondary roads, far from the main routes, because we fear the aggressiveness of the settlers,” he said.

AFP Aid scattered on the road after an attack by Israeli settlersAFP

Aid bound for Gaza left strewn on roads after attacks

But after a series of well-documented attacks, some Israelis are fighting back.

Peace activists have begun tracking their opponents’ movements on social media and ensuring they are present at key crossing points.

At the Tarqumiya checkpoint, where trucks enter Israel from the southern West Bank, members of the group Standing Together are organizing regular vigils.

Tarqumiya was the scene of one of the most dramatic recent attacks.

“People in Gaza are starving and aid should come to Gaza,” said Suf Patishi, one of the founding members of Standing Together.

“Israeli society should say loud and clear that we oppose these acts,” he said of the recent attacks on convoys.

“It’s not too much to ask not to starve, you know?”

Suf Patishi

Suf Patishi is the founder of Standing Together, a group trying to protect aid convoys.

The group brings together Jews and Arabs from all over Israel.

For Nasser Odat, an Israeli Arab from Haifa, coming to Tarqumiya was a good opportunity to feel useful, after more than seven months of helplessly watching the war in Gaza.

“I feel very empowered,” he said. “Now, finally, I have something to do to help. To help these people who are hungry.”

As peace activists took shelter from the harsh sun under palm trees in the center of a roundabout, passing truckers waved and honked their horns in gratitude.

A small group of right-wing protesters arrived, but they were outnumbered by Patishi volunteers.

The two sides debated their different positions in discussions that became increasingly heated.

Police officers were nearby, ready to keep the opposing sides apart if push came to shove.

Peace activists have accused the police, under the control of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, one of the toughest members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, of doing little to stop the attacks.

They say there is evidence that settlers are receiving help from authorities and point to text messages in which groups organizing attacks on aid trucks request and receive help from the police and military.

Getty Images Tzvika Mor leads Tsav 9, or Order 9, protesters in a march toward the border crossing checkpoint aimed at blocking aid shipments from entering Gaza, in Kerem Shalom, Israel, on Thursday, March 7, 2024. The protests to stop the delivery of aid to Gaza were started by religious Zionists, but now attract many secular participants.fake images

Meanwhile, other Israeli groups have attempted to block border crossings to prevent aid from reaching Gaza.

“Many times the police were in the areas where the attacks were taking place, but they had no one to force them to act,” Patishi said.

“And it’s very sad because the police should respect the law.”

As the trucks passed, two young women waved an Israeli flag but stopped short of trying to stop the traffic.

The two, who asked to be identified as Ariel and Shira (not their real names), explained why they felt it was important to be there.

“Honestly, we would rather not have to do the blocking,” Ariel said.

“I don’t like looting things. It’s not one of my favorite hobbies. “But we prefer that to the death of our friends and family, which is what happens the longer this war goes on.”

Both women acknowledged that there could be famine in Gaza, but were convinced that Hamas was stealing and hoarding aid instead of distributing it to people in need.

And they were not concerned about what kind of image of Israel the scenes of stopped, looted and burned aid trucks projected.

“It’s time to stop caring what other people think,” Shira said, “and do whatever it takes to protect my life, to protect my family.”

As for the police, Ariel was disdainful.

“They’re not going to interfere if they’re not sure they can close it,” he said. “They’re not going to start something they can’t finish.”

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