update deskIsrael at War

IDF transfers Gaza orphans to Judea at Berlin’s request

Israel's National Security Council reportedly approved the move without informing the Security Cabinet.

A convoy of buses with Gaza orphans and their companions passes through the outskirts of Jerusalem on its way to Judea, March 11, 2024. Credit: Nadia Matar.
A convoy of buses with Gaza orphans and their companions passes through the outskirts of Jerusalem on its way to Judea, March 11, 2024. Credit: Nadia Matar.

At the request of Germany, Israeli authorities transferred some 70 Palestinian orphans between the ages of 3 and 15 from the Gaza Strip to Bethlehem in Judea on Monday.

The National Security Council in the Prime Minister’s Office reportedly approved the move without informing the Security Cabinet.

Israel Defense Forces soldiers escorted the convoy of buses with Gaza orphans and their companions, which passed through the outskirts of Jerusalem on its way to Judea, Channel 12 News reported.

The move was said to have been authorized following a request by Germany, which funds the SOS Children’s Village orphanage in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. The orphanage recently closed down amid the ongoing IDF operation against the Hamas terrorist group.

A senior Cabinet official called the PMO’s approval of the transfer a “scandal,” especially in light of Hamas’s refusal to meet Jerusalem’s demand to provide a list of the Israeli hostages who are still alive.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich denounced the operation in a post on X as reflecting a “loss of values” and demanded clarification from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, likewise criticized the move, saying in a statement shared with the media: “This is not how a country that wants a decisive victory is run.”

Residents of Judea and Jerusalem’s southern Gilo neighborhood attempt to block the entrance to Bethlehem, March 11, 2024. Credit: Nadia Matar.

As the buses passed through the Gush Etzion tunnel checkpoint on Monday night, some residents of Judea and Jerusalem’s southern Gilo neighborhood attempted to block the entrance to Bethlehem.

“We’re standing here at the gates of Beit Lechem trying to block the busses full of kids and adults from Gaza brought here into Israel without any knowledge of the Security Cabinet of Israel,” one of them said.

She noted that Israel did not even receive a “slight, tiny little humanitarian gesture for our hostages who are being stuck there for almost half a year, ever since the 7th of October.”

One hundred thirty-four hostages remain in Gaza, out of 253 kidnapped during Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion in which some 1,200 people were killed and thousands more were wounded. Israel has confirmed that 32 hostages are dead.

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