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Israeli settlers attack Gaza aid convoys sparking outrage

Social media users have responded with anger after videos showed settlers destroying aid headed towards the blockaded and starved enclave
Members of an Israeli settler group look at damaged trailer trucks that were carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip on 13 May 2024 (Oren Ziv/AFP)

Israeli settlers have sparked outrage after they were filmed attacking several humanitarian aid convoys passing through the occupied West Bank to the war-ravaged and besieged Gaza Strip.

Videos shared online on Monday showed demonstrators throwing food packages onto the road, stomping on boxes and ripping open bags of grain, despite Gaza facing severe levels of acute food insecurity and famine.

Other videos shared on social media showed them attacking aid convoys and setting trucks on fire.

"These people know millions of Palestinians are starving," posted one user on X, formerly Twitter. "This is a murderous, frankly genocidal, display of cruelty."

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Another user posted: "Children are dying of hunger, 140,000 children at risk of acute malnutrition."

The trucks, which were attacked at the Tarqumiya checkpoint in Hebron, came from Jordan and were headed towards the besieged Gaza Strip, where the entire population - 2.2m people - are experiencing catastrophic food insecurity and in places, "full-blown famine".

Several Israeli media sites reported that a group called Tzav 9 was responsible for the attack, describing them as a right-wing movement looking to halt humanitarian aid transfers into Gaza until the Israeli captives taken to the strip during the Hamas-led 7 October attacks, are released. At least four people were detained.

Several social media users underlined that the actions of the settlers could not be separated from the government, as security officials were nearby during the incidents.

"When you see Israeli settlers destroying aid meant for Gaza, remember it's in secured zones with the Israeli army standing by,” one user wrote.

"Whether it’s defunding Unrwa, blocking aid, flour massacres, murdering aid workers, it's state terrorism."

This was echoed by leading Israeli human rights organisation B'tselem, which said that the attacks took place for hours in front of Israeli soldiers who did not intervene.

"This flies in the face of the @CIJ_ICJ [International Court of Justice], that issued provisional measures to force Israel to enable humanitarian assistance," the organisation said.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also addressed the widespread attacks, describing it as "looting".

"It is a total outrage," he said in a press briefing on Monday.

In recent weeks, far-right Israeli groups have taken extreme measures to block aid from entering Gaza, including laying down stones on the roads and organising sit-ins, in addition to attacks on the humanitarian convoys.

The World Food Programme confirmed last week that the "full-blown famine" in the north of Gaza has spread to the south. Doctors in Gaza have also warned of the increase of medical complications and infections as a direct result of malnutrition.

Last week, the Israeli military closed the entry point for aid via Egypt, saying it has taken “operational control” of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing. The Israeli flag was raised on flag poles at the crossing, and the Palestinian flag pulled to the ground.

Palestinian officials at the crossing have said that passenger entries and aid deliveries have since stopped due to the Israeli ground invasion of the area.

The humanitarian situation has further deteriorated in the south and comes as Israel warns of a full-scale ground invasion into Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have fled to during the ongoing war.

Over 450,000 have already left the previously designated safe zone.

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