Right-wing activists block humanitarian aid headed to Gaza for three hours

One arrested in renewed efforts to block assistance to Strip due to lack of hostage deal with Hamas; IDF details construction of new crossing to Gaza to bolster aid supply

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Activists blocking the Nitzana goods crossing are forcibly removed by police during protests against the supply of humanitarian aid to Gaza by Israel, April 11, 2024. (Courtesy Tzav 9)

Activists from the right-wing Tzav 9 organization, including relatives of victims of Hamas’s October 7 atrocities, succeeded in blocking Gaza-bound humanitarian aid coming through the Nitzana crossing with Egypt for three hours on Thursday morning, police said.

Police and Border Police personnel forcibly removed the demonstrators during the course of the morning, and arrested one activist. Video footage sent by the police later on Thursday afternoon showed humanitarian aid trucks passing through the crossing.

The police said that approximately 50 activists were involved in efforts to block the Nitzana crossing

Humanitarian aid coming to Gaza through Egypt enters Israel via the Nitzana border crossing, located south of Gaza, where it undergoes a security check. It is then transferred to Gaza through either the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border or the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza.

The UN and humanitarian organizations say hunger and severe malnutrition have become rife in Gaza, particularly the northern part of the territory, with warnings of impending famine if the crisis is not adequately addressed.

Israel has recently taken steps it says are aimed at facilitating the transfer of far more food and other necessities into the territory, with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying the plan is to “flood Gaza with aid.”

Tzav 9 has for months opposed the supply of humanitarian aid to Gaza, arguing that it disincentivizes Hamas from agreeing to a hostage release deal and that much of the aid is seized by the terrorist group. Tzav 9 activists have succeeded in blocking the Nitzana and the Kerem Shalom crossings on several occasions since the start of the war.

Participating in Thursday’s protest was Noga Alfassa, the niece of Maya Goren who was abducted by Hamas on October 7 and who has been confirmed to have been killed but whose body is still being held by the terror group.

Noga Alfassa, the niece of Maya Goren who was abducted by Hamas on October 7 and has been confirmed dead, is forcibly removed by police during protests against the supply of humanitarian aid to Gaza by Israel at the Nitzana goods crossing, April 11, 2024. (Courtesy Tzav 9)

Alfassa was forcibly removed by police forces along with other protesters during Thursday’s demonstration.

“People apparently do not understand that if we do not handle this war as it should be handled, there won’t be one person in this country who will be safe from resurgent terrorist groups and massacres in the coming years, God forbid,” said Alfassa.

Tzav 9 has also picketed the Jerusalem offices of the UNRWA Palestinian aid agency, due to Israel’s allegations that several of its employees participated in the October 7 atrocities and that hundreds of its staff are affiliated with terror groups.

“The orders given to security services have become confused,” charged Tzav 9 founder Reut Ben Haim during Thursday’s protests. “Instead of opposing Hamas there is opposition to us — to stopping the aid to Hamas.”

She added: “This is insanity. The only way is to stop the aid.”

Masked members of the so-called ‘People’s Protection Committees’ guard a humanitarian aid truck in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 3, 2024. (Said Khatib / AFP)

The police said following Thursday’s demonstration that it had a policy of “tolerance and sensitivity towards the protesters” but would “act with zero tolerance” toward anyone violating public order.

On Wednesday, Tzav 9 published an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu protesting the massive increase in humanitarian aid supplied to Gaza. The boost comes after US President Joe Biden warned Netanyahu that US policy on the war would fundamentally change unless Israel increased the supply of aid to the war torn territory.

“The aid you transfer to Hamas increases every day, without a [hostage release] deal being signed,” the Tzav 9 wrote to Netanyahu. “In the current situation, Hamas will have no interest in a deal, because if you give them everything for free, there is no reason for them to give anything in return.”

Also on Thursday, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari outlined new efforts by the IDF to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Hagari confirmed that the IDF was constructing a new goods crossing between Israel and northern Gaza that he said would facilitate the supply of aid to the north of the Strip, where it is most needed.

“We are constructing the Northern Crossing, a new land crossing from Israel into northern Gaza to enable more aid to flow directly to civilians in the areas that have been challenging for trucks to access,” said Hagari.

He said that the IDF was also “working with international partners” to bring in aid through the Israeli port of Ashdod and on into Gaza.

The Israeli government had almost entirely prohibited the supply of aid to Gaza through Ashdod since the beginning of the war, with the large majority coming through Port Said in Egypt some 200 kilometers away, which human rights groups and humanitarian organizations said made the supply of aid more difficult.

Hagari said these measures would mean that the average number of trucks entering Gaza could reach 500 a day. The daily average in March was around 160 trucks.

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