newsIsrael at War

Protesters block Gaza aid from entering Israel from Jordan

“We are dealing with a terror organization that does not value life," a spokeswoman for the Tzav 9 movement says.

People block the entrance to Ashdod Port during a protest against aid entering the Gaza Strip, Feb. 1, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
People block the entrance to Ashdod Port during a protest against aid entering the Gaza Strip, Feb. 1, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

Demonstrators converged on the Israeli side of the Allenby Bridge near Jericho on Monday, the only official crossing between Jordan and Judea and Samaria, to prevent aid supplies destined for Gaza from entering.

The Tzav 9 (Order 9) grassroots movement organized the protest. Tzav 9 is a reference to the Tzav 8 emergency mobilization notices received by Israel Defense Forces reservists on Oct. 7.

“We are losing patience,” Rachel Touitou, a spokesperson for Tzav 9, told JNS on Tuesday. “We see the negotiations at a standstill. Our hostages haven’t returned home, we don’t even get the bodies of the deceased back.

“We are dealing with a terror organization that does not value life. Not only do they seize humanitarian aid to feed terrorists, but they also resell some of it,” she said. 

While Israel has shown flexibility in the hopes of arriving at a hostage deal, Hamas has impeded an agreement, Matthew Miller, the U.S. State Department spokesman, said on Monday.

“Israel moved a significant way in submitting that proposal,” Miller said. “There was a deal on the table that would achieve much of what Hamas claims it wants to achieve, and they have not taken that deal.”

In response to Israel’s most generous offer yet, Hamas reportedly dropped the number of hostages it is willing to release from 40 to 20. The terrorist organization also demanded the release of more hardened terrorists and a ratio of more jailed Palestinian terrorists released per Israeli hostage freed. It also appeared to reject a phased deal, instead demanding an immediate withdrawal of all IDF units from the Gaza Strip along with international guarantees.

The Israeli protesters at Allenby Crossing on Monday included relatives of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

“We heard that trucks were coming in from Jordan and decided to prevent it from passing. [The authorities] did it at night because they thought it would deter us,” Touitou said. 

“It was a successful protest. Right afterward, they designated the area a [closed] military zone and they decided to send this same shipment through Kerem Shalom today. That’s why we came this morning,” she added.

On Tuesday, Tzav 9 converged on Kibbutz Gvulot, near the Kerem Shalom crossing. Touitou stressed that for as long as the hostages remain in Gaza, activists would continue protesting.

“The Gazans are being sent aid while 133 Israelis are held against their will. We don’t know what their medical condition is, we get no sign of life, they haven’t received any medication or a visit from humanitarian organizations,” Touitou said. 

“We can’t let the [Hamas] terror organization, which uses international law and humanitarian aid to its own benefit, walk all over us,” she continued.

On Monday, the United States confirmed that the quantity of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip had substantially increased over the past few days.

Israel recently ramped up efforts to facilitate deliveries, with the opening of a new land crossing to the Gaza Strip designed primarily to facilitate the entry of foreign aid.

The crossing, located between Kibbutz Zikim and the Gazan village of As-Siafa, will reduce travel time for trucks entering the Strip after picking up shipments at the Port of Ashdod some 25 miles away, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said last week. The goal, according to Gallant, is to have at least 500 trucks a day entering the Strip.

Near-daily protests took place following Israel’s Security Cabinet decision on Dec. 15 to approve the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing for the transfer of aid into the southern Strip after intense U.S. and international pressure.

All the Israeli crossings to Gaza had been shuttered after Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion, with only Egypt’s Rafah crossing from Sinai remaining open.

In late December and early January, protesters attempted to block trucks at Kerem Shalom, leading to clashes with security personnel. In early February, after two border crossings were declared closed military zones, activists moved their operations to Ashdod Port, where they blocked trucks destined for the Strip. 

Last week, protesters from Tzav 9 succeeded in blocking aid at the Nitzana crossing between Israel and Egypt before security forces forcibly removed them a few hours later. 

Touitou recounted that when Tzav 9 began its action months ago, Gazans started protesting against Hamas. Now that humanitarian aid goes in, she said Hamas isn’t encountering any resistance from the population.

“We are not only speaking about food, there is fuel as well. This is a problem for us and this is a problem for our soldiers,” said Touitou.

“Which country in the world would feed their enemy? Hamas gets whatever it needs and wants. It refuses to close a deal because there are no incentives to do so,” she added.

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