Updated May 21st, 2024 at 19:44 IST

Israeli Settlers Attacking Gaza Aid Trucks Tipped Off by Police, Soliders: Report

'Extermist' settler groups attacked aid trucks bound for Gaza last week, reportedly, over concerns that the aid would fall into the hands of Hamas.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Protesters have also previously attempted to stop the entry of aid trucks into Gaza. | Image:AP
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New Delhi: In two separate instances last week, Israeli settler groups attacked trucks in the occupied West Bank area that they believed were carrying aid into the embattled Gaza Strip. In the first incident, which took place on May 13, one such group attacked two aid trucks at the Tarqumiya checkpoint near Hebron as they were carrying much-needed aid towards the Strip from Jordan. The trucks were stopped and the aid they were carrying was reportedly destroyed, with unconfirmed videos of torn food packages being thrown to the ground. The trucks themselves were reportedly set on fire. 

In the second incident, which took place on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday last week, another group of settlers attacked what they believed was an aid truck heading to Gaza at a junction outside the Kochav Hashahar in West Bank. The driver of the truck was assaulted and the truck itself was set on fire though it was later discovered that the truck was not, in fact, carrying aid to Gaza. 

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When IDF soldiers reported to the scene in order to bring the situation under control, the protesters allegedly attacked the soldiers as well. In both cases, local media reports blamed ‘extremists’ looking to stop the aid flowing into Gaza under the belief that Hamas ultimately benefits from all this. Many of these protesters also reportedly wish to use the aid as a bargaining chip to ensure the return of the Israeli hostages held somewhere within the enclave. 

Some reports even specifically point fingers towards a far-right settlers group called Tsav 9 as the responsible party for such attacks though the group has sought to distance itself from the violent episodes that were condemned by the White House as “completely and utterly unacceptable behaviour”.

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Adding to this now is a report by the Guardian, which cites multiple sources as saying that individual members of Israel's security forces, in the IDF and the police, are responsible for tipping off these settler groups about the location of the aid trucks.

This corroborates a report by Haaretz last week which quoted an anonymous senior Israeli official as saying that the rioters had received “inside information”.

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Guardian reported that it has reviewed messages from alleged Israeli settler WhatsApp groups which seem to indicate that security force members posted near border crossings sent the settlers ‘preliminary information’ about the movement of the aid trucks. 

Footage of one of the aforementioned attacks reviewed by the Guardian also reportedly showed Israeli soldiers looking on and not taking action as the settlers ransacked an aid truck. 

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All this takes on increased significance at a time when the US State Department has declared that Israel is not blocking aid flowing into Gaza. The declaration was part of a larger assessment seeking to determine if Israel had engaged in unlawful behaviour in Gaza using American weapons. 

While the report expressed concern over Israel's conduct in Gaza and noted the insufficient flow of aid into the enclave, it concluded that there was not enough evidence of Israel violating international laws to justify a cutoff of US military aid. 

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Separately two US officials told the Times of Israel as saying that the Biden administration is looking to sanction certain Israeli settler groups for attacking aid convoys. 

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir told Army Radio this week that while he is against the attacks on the trucks, he was in favour of the freedom to protest. He also said stopping the aid trucks going into Gaza should be the work of the Israeli cabinet. 

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Published May 21st, 2024 at 19:44 IST