update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu denies report of secret deal with Biden for Gaza flour

The passage of 150 flour trucks from Ashdod Port through the Kerem Shalom crossing is at the "execution stage."

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is denying a report on Wednesday by Channel 12 that he approved entry to the Gaza Strip of tens of thousands of tons of flour without informing Cabinet ministers.

The Israeli news outlet reported that a secret agreement between Netanyahu and the Biden administration has moved to the “execution stage” for the transfer of 150 flour trucks from the Port of Ashdod to Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, totaling 24,000 tons of flour. This is in addition to 114,000 tons of flour already agreed to before the war that in total would be enough for six months.

According to the report, the ministers only found out about it during a recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, when he sat in on a Cabinet session.

The Biden administration announced the decision last week, with U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby saying that the president discussed the move in a call with Netanyahu.

Netanyahu’s office rejected the report in a statement.

“The War Cabinet discussed the issue and all members of the Cabinet approved it. This is an American shipment that arrived at Ashdod for Gaza prior to the war in addition to another delivery that is on its way now,” the Prime Minister’s Office said.

“The flour will enter gradually over months and not all at once as was reported, and will not change the number of trucks that enter the Gaza Strip every day.”

Minister-without-Portfolio Chili Tropper of the National Unity Party supported the prime minister’s version of events, telling Channel 12 that “Netanyahu at the last Cabinet meeting, I believe last week, brought up the flour issue and there was a deliberation on the matter.”

Israel halted shipments into Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of the northwestern Negev in which some 1,200 people were murdered, thousands wounded and 253 taken hostage. However, under U.S. and international pressure, Egypt’s Rafah crossing to the Strip was eventually opened, followed by Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing.

Meanwhile, protests have been taking place in Israel against allowing aid into Gaza while war is raging there and hostages are still being held. Hamas is stealing much of the aid intended for Gazan civilians and redirecting it to terrorists hiding in tunnels.

Hundreds of demonstrators prevented humanitarian aid trucks from entering the Gaza Strip from Israel at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Wednesday.

The protesters from the “Order 9” movement demand that “no aid goes through until the last of the abductees returns, no equipment be transferred to the enemy.”

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