update deskIsrael at War

Outrage after IDF announces daily ‘humanitarian pauses’ along south Gaza route

The move came a day after eight troops were slain in the Strip's southernmost city of Rafah.

Palestinians shop for food in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip. Nov. 13, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Palestinians shop for food in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip. Nov. 13, 2023. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

Right-wing ministers in the Israeli government lashed out on Sunday after the Israel Defense Forces announced it would observe daily 11-hour “humanitarian pauses” in its operation against Hamas terrorists along a route in southern Gaza to increase aid shipments into the area.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir criticized the move, claiming it runs contrary to decisions made by the Security Cabinet.

“The one who decided on a ‘tactical truce’ to introduce humanitarian aid, especially at a time when the best of our soldiers are falling in battle, is evil and a fool who should not continue in his position,” he tweeted.

The announcement came a day after eight Israeli troops were slain in the Tel Sultan neighborhood of Rafah city, marking the deadliest day for the IDF in Gaza in six months.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich charged that humanitarian aid, the majority of which is seized by Hamas terrorists, “keeps it in power and may put the achievements of the war down the drain.

“The way the humanitarian effort in the Gaza Strip has been managed, with most aid reaching Hamas and helping it maintain civilian control over the Strip in direct contradiction to the war’s objectives, has been wrong for months,” Smotrich tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

“This morning’s disconnected announcement in the foreign media about a ‘humanitarian pause’ along the aid supply route from Kerem Shalom to the European Hospital in [Khan Yunis in] the center of the Strip did not reflect any change on the ground,” he stressed. “This route has existed since the start of the Rafah operation and is intended to allow the entry of aid by international organizations, in line with the flawed existing approach.

“The IDF chief of staff and defense minister have adamantly refused for six months the only path to victory: Conquering the Strip and temporarily imposing military rule until Hamas is destroyed. Sadly, Prime Minister Netanyahu either doesn’t want to or cannot force this upon them,” claimed the Religious Zionist Party leader.

According to the IDF, the decision to pause fighting between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. along the Salah al-Din Road leading from the Kerem Shalom Crossing north towards Khan Yunis was made following “additional related discussions with the U.N. and international organizations.”

In an English-language statement, the IDF noted that this is another step in the aid efforts carried out by it and the Defense Ministry’s COGAT unit since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip. “The IDF will continue to support humanitarian efforts on the ground,” the army said.

Just over an hour after the initial announcement on Sunday of the “tactical pauses,” IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari clarified in Hebrew that “there is no cessation of fighting in the southern Gaza Strip, and the fighting in Rafah continues. In addition, there has been no change regarding the introduction of goods into the Gaza Strip.”

He emphasized: “The axis carrying the goods will be open during the day, in coordination with international organizations, for the transportation of humanitarian aid only.”

In November, Jerusalem agreed to observe hour-long humanitarian pauses in its operation in northern Gaza following pressure from U.S. President Joe Biden. At the time, the IDF downplayed the truce, emphasizing that “these tactical pauses are limited in time and area.”

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