Israel said advancing plan for Arab peacekeepers to secure Gaza aid deliveries

Reports say proposed force to be staffed by troops from 3 unnamed Arab countries at peace with Israel, would be charged with protecting aid convoys from pillaging

A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on March 25, 2024 shows humanitarian aid being airdropped over Gaza from a RAF A400M aircraft. (AFP / CROWN COPYRIGHT 2024 / MOD / AS1 LEAH JONES / RAF)
A handout picture taken and released by the British Ministry of Defence (MOD) on March 25, 2024 shows humanitarian aid being airdropped over Gaza from a RAF A400M aircraft. (AFP / CROWN COPYRIGHT 2024 / MOD / AS1 LEAH JONES / RAF)

Israel is pushing for the establishment of an international peacekeeping force to secure the Gaza Strip and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid in it, multiple Hebrew media outlets reported Friday evening, indicating a likely coordinated leak.

The reports all said Defense Minister Yoav Gallant had informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he had made headway on the matter during his visit to Washington this week.

The force would be composed of troops from three different unnamed Arab countries — though not Saudi Arabia or Qatar, the latter being a longtime patron of Hamas that is one of the mediators in hostage-for-truce talks. Some reports intimated that Egypt and the UAE were two of the countries, and that the third also has a peace treaty with Israel. The force would be managed by the US, but with no American forces on the ground.

The idea is backed by the United States, the reports said. The force would likely be armed to uphold law and order and would work with Gazans who don’t have links to Hamas, ostensibly figures linked to the Palestinian Authority. US support, however, is contingent on Israel beginning to implement a post-war plan for the rehabilitation of Gaza, such as Gallant’s “day after” plan, which he presented three months ago, the reports said.

That plan, which has not received backing from the coalition, calls for Israel to maintain full military control of Gaza for now but to have no civilian presence there, and for civilian matters in the Strip to be administered by Palestinians who are not hostile to Israel. Furthermore, the plan calls for stabilizing the Strip after the war with assistance from a multi-national force.

It is unclear whether Arab allies will actually be willing to participate in the peacekeeping scheme, given that they have repeatedly asserted that they will not take part in the management of Gaza after the war unless it is part of a broader initiative that includes the establishment of a pathway to a future Palestinian state — something the current government firmly rejects.

The international force’s initial task would be to guard truck convoys containing humanitarian aid from pillaging by desperate Gazans, as well as to secure the aid pier set to be built by the US off the coast of the Strip, which is expected to be ready in about a month.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, at right, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, at left, across table from Austin, meet at the Pentagon, Tuesday, March 26, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ynet reported that the progress in talks between the US and the unnamed Arab countries is a result of visits by Israeli defense officials to those countries and talks with the US government and CENTCOM.

According to Haaretz, no agreement has yet been reached on how to arm the force.

A Politico report this week said that the Pentagon is in early “conversations” on potential plans to fund a peacekeeping force.

Channel 12 news reported that Netanyahu was resistant to the idea, but Gallant suggested it was the best option available.

Aid groups say all of Gaza is mired in a humanitarian crisis, with the situation in the largely isolated north standing out. Many of the estimated 300,000 people still living in northern Gaza have been reduced to eating animal fodder to survive, according to some accounts.

The UN says that one in six children under the age of two in the north suffers from acute malnutrition. In total, around 1.1 million people — about half the population — are said to be experiencing “catastrophic” hunger.

Humanitarian aid is airdropped to Palestinians over Gaza City, Gaza Strip, March 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Essa)

The war began with a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, in which thousands of Palestinian terrorists killed around 1,200 people and took 253 hostages. More than 100 of them were released during a weeklong temporary ceasefire in November, leaving 130 people captive in Gaza, of whom 33 are no longer alive, according to Israeli military intelligence.

Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry has said that more than 32,000 people have been killed since the start of the war, a figure that cannot be independently verified and, according to Israel, includes some 13,000 Hamas terror operatives it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 gunmen inside Israel on and immediately after October 7.

Most Popular
read more: