update deskIsrael at War

Bennett: ‘The problem is that Hamas is hijacking the aid’

The former prime minister rejected Biden's State of the Union remarks on supplying Gaza.

Then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 8, 2022. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett leads a Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, May 8, 2022. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday rejected U.S. President Joe Biden’s call during his State of the Union address last week for Jerusalem to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Kristen Welker, moderator of NBC‘s “Meet the Press,” played a clip of Biden’s remarks in front of a joint session of Congress in which he said that “Israel must allow more aid into Gaza and ensure that humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the crossfire,” adding that “humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.”

“The problem is not the amount of aid going into Gaza. The problem is that Hamas is hijacking that aid, robbing that aid, taking it for itself and then selling it back in the black market in Gaza at about tenfold the price, and many Gazans can’t afford it,” Bennett said on the public affairs program.

“We are not using this as a negotiations chip or anything of that sort. The problem is that Hamas is stopping that aid.”

IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, during a press briefing on Saturday night, also pinned the blame on Hamas, saying that “by refusing to agree to the return of the hostages, Hamas is preventing a humanitarian ceasefire and is continuing to increase the suffering of the people of Gaza.”

Hagari also said that the IDF was coordinating with the United States the establishment of a temporary floating pier in Gaza to deliver aid supplies following Biden’s announcement on the matter in his State of the Union address.

“Following the directive of the minister of defense, and together with our partners in the United States and the United States Central Command, we are coordinating the establishment of a temporary floating pier, intended to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza following full Israeli inspection,” Hagari said.

“The mission is clear and in complete coordination between the IDF and the United States Central Command. We will distribute the equipment through international organizations to the population who need this. Alongside this, we will continue to fight and dismantle Hamas’s military capabilities.”

Meanwhile, CENTCOM announced early Sunday that U.S. Army’s General Frank S. Besson logistics support vessel departed Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia en route to the eastern Mediterranean to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea.

The vessel is “carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies,” CENTCOM said.

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