Israeli activists battle over Gaza-bound aid convoys

The war in Gaza is being fought on many fronts.

One of them is aid.

Months after some Israelis started to protest against aid lorries entering Gaza at the main Kerem Shalom crossing, the battle has moved to other key junctions, where rival groups of activists do their best to block or protect aid convoys.

In recent weeks, social media has been flooded with images of aid lorries being blocked and ransacked.

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

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

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

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

In another, one of the stranded lorries is ablaze.

Other videos show Israeli vigilantes stopping lorries in Jerusalem and demanding that drivers show papers proving they are not transporting aid to Gaza. Their faces are uncovered and they appear to be acting with complete impunity.

In the West Bank, at least two drivers who were not carrying goods bound for Gaza were dragged from their cabs and beaten.

Palestinian lorry drivers say they’re traumatised.

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

“I fear for my life.”

Mr Amro was carrying commercially purchased goods from the West Bank to Gaza when he was set upon. Other targeted drivers are involved in transporting aid from Jordan, which has to cross the West Bank and Israel before it reaches Gaza.

“We’re now taking side roads, far from the main routes, because we fear the aggressiveness of the settlers,” he said.

AFP Aid strewn on the road after an attack by Israeli settlers
Aid bound for Gaza has been left strewn on roads after the attacks

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

Peace activists have taken to tracking their opponents’ movements on social media and making sure they’re present at key crossing points.

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

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

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

“Israeli society should say in a loud and clear voice that we are opposed to these acts,” he said of the recent attacks on convoys.

“It’s not a lot to ask, not to die from hunger, you know.”

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