Israeli Protesters Block Aid Trucks Destined for Gaza

Israeli protesters blocked aid trucks destined for Gaza on Monday, throwing food packages onto the road and ripping bags of grain open in the occupied West Bank.

The lorries, which were set upon at the Tarqumiya checkpoint west of Hebron, came from Jordan and were headed to the Gaza Strip, where people are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.

The White House has condemned the attack, describing the “looting” of aid convoys as “a total outrage”.

The group reportedly behind the protest said they were demonstrating against the continued detention of Israeli hostages in Gaza.

Unverified footage shared on social media showed protesters toppling boxes from lorries onto the ground, and stomping on them once they had fallen.

Some videos appeared to show vehicles being set on fire later in the evening. The BBC has not been able to independently verify these.

According to reports in Israeli media, the Tzav 9 activist group were responsible for organising the protest.

Israeli media reports describe it as a right-wing group which is seeking to halt humanitarian aid transfers into Gaza while Israeli hostages are held there.

One protester told AFP news agency she was at the checkpoint on Monday because she heard aid trucks were on “their way to the hands of the Hamas, who are trying to kill other soldiers and other Israeli citizens”.

Hana Giat, 33, said “no food should go into Gaza” until Israeli hostages are returned “healthy and alive”.

In a statement cited by the Jerusalem Post, Tzav 9 rejected some of the protesters’ actions, saying that “acts were committed today that are not in line with the values of our movement”.

It added, however, that “blocking the trucks is an effective and practical step in which we shout that ‘no aid passes until the last of the hostages returns'”.

Four protesters, including a minor, were arrested at the demonstration, according to a statement from their lawyers.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the protesters’ behaviour was “completely and utterly unacceptable” and the White House was raising its concerns with “the highest level of the Israeli government”.

The humanitarian situation in Gaza – the intended destination of the aid trucks – is a matter of grave concern among many in the international community.

The UN’s World Food Programme has warned that Palestinians in northern Gaza are experiencing a “full-blown famine”.

In the south, where most Palestinians have sought refuge, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated after Israel launched an operation in eastern Rafah, closing the entry point for aid via Egypt.

Aid agencies say getting supplies through another southern crossing, Kerem Shalom, is also extremely difficult due to the security situation there.

Israel has long maintained that it is committed to facilitating deliveries of humanitarian aid into and within Gaza and has accused Hamas of stealing the aid designated for civilians.

The incident came on the same day a UN staff member was killed and another injured as they travelled to a hospital in Gaza.

Monday’s incident coincided with Israel’s memorial day, as the country stopped to pay its respects to those who have lost their lives in war and terrorism.

According to Israel’s defence ministry, the names of 826 people from the security forces were added to the list of the country’s fallen this year, alongside 834 victims of terrorist attacks.

Almost all of them were from the 7 October Hamas attacks and the war that followed in Gaza.

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s attack on southern Israel last year, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 252 others were taken hostage.

More than 35,090 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

While the Israeli offensive has been focused on the Gaza Strip, tensions between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank have heightened since the start of the war.

Around 700,000 Israelis live in 160 settlements alongside 2.7 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to the settlement watchdog Peace Now.

The international community regards the settlements as illegal, although Israel disputes this.

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