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Israel right-wing settlers question delivery of aid to Gazans, peace activists advocate for passage of aid trucks

Written by on June 17, 2024

(NEW YORK) — In Israel, right-wing settlers question the delivery of aid to Gazans, while Israeli peace activists advocate for the passage of aid trucks.

A Palestinian truck driver is back on the road delivering flour, sugar and salt to Gaza after being attacked by right-wing Israeli settlers last month.

Tamer Muhtaseb and his partners were attempting to deliver much-needed goods at the Tarqumiya checkpoint between the West Bank and Israel, when he was assaulted, according to Muhtaseb, by Israeli settlers who he says sabotaged his truck by throwing bags of flour onto the road.

“They forced us to get out of the car, they started to throw the aids, if I got close to the car, they would hit me,” Muhtaseb said. “If you say any word they beat you; they handcuffed me.”

The Israel Defense Forces has told ABC News that they condemn attacks on truck drivers.

Before aid reaches Gaza, it changes hands multiple times. Muhtaseb and the other Palestinian drivers line up their vehicles at the last checkpoint in the West Bank before transferring their goods onto Israeli trucks for transportation through Israel.

The trucks are supposed to reach one of the five gate crossings from Israel to Gaza, but even then they face more protests.

ABC News got a chance to speak with a woman settler at the Tarqumiya checkpoint who said she is trying to block the aid from going to the hands of Hamas.

“The people who receive this food, they raped and murdered our children, and we should not give them food,” the unidentified woman said. “This money today finances Hamas in Gaza.”

She also said, “It’s not hate, and the settlers don’t hate them. Rather, it’s the opposite. The settlers want to live in peace.”

Many Israelis believe that some of the aid Gazans receive is stolen by Hamas, something aid groups deny.

Since the start of the war, the issue of aid has been deeply divisive and highly politicized. Aid groups say that Israel could be doing far more to ensure that desperately needed aid is reaching Gaza. Israeli peace activist Alon Lee Green is advocating for the passage of aid.

“We’ve been witness to so many escalating attacks here,” Green said. “We’ve seen those right-wing attacking the trucks. They even set trucks on fire. Sent two Palestinian drivers to the hospital. It’s a fight over the soul of our own society.”

UN agencies are sounding the alarm over high starvation levels, especially in the northern part of the strip.

The UN World Food Program has paused its distribution of humanitarian aid from an American-built pier off Gaza due to safety concerns following one of the deadliest days of the war. It’s the latest setback for the $300 million pier, which had only just returned to operation after being damaged by rough seas.

However, Israel insists that enough aid is being authorized for delivery and that aid groups are the ones creating logistical challenges that result in a bottleneck.

“I’ve been working in Palestine for five years,” Andrea de Domenico, head of the UN Humanitarian Office, said. “And I’ve gone through three wars in Gaza and constant problems and situations in the West Bank. And I learned that everything is politicized in this place. I’m pretty much convinced that there is an intent to set us up for failure.”

Some aid groups argue that land routes are the most efficient way to deliver aid. Although settler disruptions may not significantly impact aid delivery to Gaza, peace activists like Green patrol the area to ensure that aid faces one less hurdle on its journey to the people of Gaza.

Green was asked if it feels like they are screaming into a void.

“In the first weeks and months of the war, because we felt very isolated and very alone and attacked from every direction,” Green said. “But more and more forces are joining us in the call for a ceasefire, in the call for humanizing all the people that live here.”

“People that have been killed in Gaza are not bringing us more safety,” Green said. “And seeing people starving in Gaza is just something that will create more violence that not only Palestinians will pay the price of, but also Israelis will be hurt. I mean, we are bound to somehow live on this land together.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that mediators will keep working to finalize a ceasefire deal after Hamas proposed changes to a U.S.-backed plan. Some proposed changes were considered “workable,” while others were not.

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