ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Hamas said to be hijacking over half the aid trucks

Gantz, Eisenkot said to mull limiting aid to Gaza as part of efforts to weaken Hamas

TV report says the National Unity ministers believe move could create pressure for an alternative body to take responsibility for distributing humanitarian assistance in the Strip

An Egyptian truck carrying humanitarian aid undergoes security checks at the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing before entering the southern Gaza Strip, on January 22, 2024. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)
An Egyptian truck carrying humanitarian aid undergoes security checks at the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing before entering the southern Gaza Strip, on January 22, 2024. (Menahem KAHANA / AFP)

War cabinet member Benny Gantz and observer Gadi Eisenkot have suggested temporarily limiting the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip so its distribution will no longer be controlled by Hamas, Israeli television reported Wednesday.

According to Channel 12 news, the two National Unity party ministers believe that limiting the entry of aid for a short amount of time could create pressure for an alternative body to take responsibility for distributing aid among the enclave’s civilians, helping shape conditions in Gaza “the day after” the war.

They also reportedly think that limiting humanitarian assistance to Gaza could increase pressure for the return of the hostages still held by Hamas.

The report said Gantz and Eisenkot raised the matter during unspecified deliberations in recent days, and were given an assessment that Hamas is hijacking over half the aid trucks entering Gaza, with Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar putting the figure as high as 60 percent.

Bar was said to have discussed ways to stop Hamas from taking over the trucks during meetings in Cairo earlier this week.

The network noted the chief obstacle to such a move was the likely opposition of US President Joe Biden, which has repeatedly pressed Israel to let more aid into Gaza amid the ongoing fighting triggered by the Hamas-led terror onslaught on October 7.

Noting the decision would likely not go over well with the US, diplomatic sources told Channel 12 news that Gantz and Eisenkot would support limiting aid for a short period if doing so helps determine conditions in the Strip following the war, the discussion of which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed off due to opposition from his far-right coalition partners.

Gadi Eisenkot (left) and Benny Gantz at the launch of the new National Unity party, August 14, 2022, in Kfar Maccabiah. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The report came as large groups of activists, including some families of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, have been holding daily protests at the Kerem Shalom crossing, demanding that no aid be allowed to enter Gaza via Israel as long as the hostages remain in captivity.

After repeated attempts, the protesters succeeded at blocking at least some of the aid several days last week. On Tuesday, the IDF issued an order declaring a closed military zone at the Nitzana Border Crossing, where aid enters Israel from Egypt to be checked before being sent back to Egypt to enter Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on October 7, murdering close to 1,200 people in Israel, most of them civilians, and taking another 253 hostage, 132 of whom remain captive in Gaza.

In response, Israel launched an extensive military campaign against the terrorist organization, and the government initially said no aid would be allowed into Gaza.

By the end of October, however, Israel was allowing humanitarian aid to enter the Strip through the Rafah crossing on the Gaza border with Egypt. Netanyahu has since said multiple times that without minimal aid being given to Gaza, the IDF would be unable to complete its objectives in the war due to risks such as diseases.

Israeli border police stand guard as protesters, including relatives of the hostages held in Gaza since the October 7 attacks by Hamas, take part in a demonstration aimed at blocking aid trucks from entering the Palestinian territory, on the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with the southern Gaza Strip on January 29, 2024. (Menahem Kahana / AFP)

As part of a temporary truce deal in November, 105 hostages were released, and Israel promised to up the number of trucks carrying aid to 200 a day, but could not keep up with the demand with only one crossing open. As a result, Netanyahu announced in mid-December that Israel would reopen Kerem Shalom to allow more aid into the Strip.

Netanyahu repeated that the aid was essential to success in the war during a press conference on Saturday night.

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