update deskIsrael at War

IDF expands closed military zone near Gaza as protesters block aid

"Do not transfer the aid to the enemy. We need to defeat Hamas," Bat-Zion, the aunt of 30-year-old hostage Avinatan Or, told JNS.

Hundreds of Israelis block trucks carrying humanitarian supplies towards the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Bashi Darshan/TPS.
Hundreds of Israelis block trucks carrying humanitarian supplies towards the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Bashi Darshan/TPS.

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday announced it expanded the closed military zone surrounding the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza as Israeli protesters continue to converge with the aim of preventing aid from passing into the Hamas-ruled enclave.

The military order was announced by the IDF in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

“Thousands of people are descending on the crossing in order to block the convoys of supplies and aid to Hamas,” the “Order 9” movement said earlier on Sunday.

“There are very large forces preventing us from reaching the site, and allowing the trucks to pass through to the murderous terrorist organization. … No aid goes through until all of the captives are returned,” it added.

For five straight days, protesters from “Order 9” have demonstrated at the crossing, bypassing police checkpoints set up to prevent their arrival.

Bat-Zion, the aunt of 30-year-old hostage Avinatan Or, told JNS on Sunday morning that she came “to protest the injustice that is being done with the transfer of aid to the terrorists who are holding our dear ones. We came to strengthen the leaders and to say, the people are behind you, stand up to the pressure. Do not transfer the aid to the enemy. We need to defeat Hamas, That’s the only way we’ll get our children back. We can’t defeat the enemy if in the process we help them and send them aid.”

Or was taken captive by Hamas at the Supernova music festival along with his girlfriend, Noa Argamani. The 26-year-old Argamani was not among the women released during a temporary ceasefire in November.

On Wednesday, the demonstrators blocked more than 100 trucks, some of which were diverted to another crossing between Egypt and Gaza.

(An “Order 8” is the term for the emergency mobilization of an Israel Defense Forces reservist outside the framework of regular reserve duty. Many were issued after Hamas’s Oct. 7, 2023 invasion of the northwestern Negev.)

The demonstrators include families of the 136 hostages still being held by Hamas, relatives of soldiers killed in action in Gaza, reservists rotated out of combat and civilians evacuated from the northern and southern frontiers.

On Dec. 15, Israel’s Security Cabinet, following intense U.S. and international pressure, approved the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing for the transfer of aid into the Strip. All the Israeli crossings to Gaza had been shuttered after the Oct. 7 massacre, with only Egypt’s Rafah crossing from Sinai remaining open.

The latest protests followed previous attempts to block the passage of aid to Gaza from Israel, including on Jan. 9 and Dec. 21. Organizers of the Dec. 21 effort said it was mounted to stop “Hamas trucks” and “Nazi trucks” from entering the coastal enclave.

Kerem Border Crossing
Israelis block trucks carrying supplies to the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom crossing, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Bashi Darshan/TPS.

Hamas steals much of the aid intended for Gazan civilians and redirects it to terrorists hiding in tunnels.

The Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit said that 260 aid trucks entered Gaza on Jan. 21, including 139 passing through Kerem Shalom, the most on any single day since the war began on Oct. 7.

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