Israeli protesters block aid trucks from entering war-torn Gaza

Israeli protesters blocked humanitarian aid trucks from entering the war-torn Gaza Strip on Sunday, forcing the lorries to turn around at a crossing with the Palestinian territory.

Hundreds gathered in the latest protest at the Kerem Shalom crossing, despite the army saying in a statement it had declared the area “a closed military zone.”

The demonstrators, some affiliated with relatives of hostages held in Gaza, have assembled there for days to protest aid going to the territory that UN officials say is on the brink of catastrophe.

“We don’t want anything to get into Gaza because everything that goes … to Gaza goes directly to the terrorists and we don’t want that,” protester Shoshi Strikowski said.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has ruled that Israel must facilitate “urgently needed” humanitarian aid to the Palestinian territory, which has been under relentless bombardment and siege since the October 7 attack by Hamas.

Only two border crossings are used for aid delivery to Gaza’s roughly 2.4 million residents — southern Israel’s Kerem Shalom and Egypt’s Rafah crossing.

COGAT, an Israeli defense ministry body governing civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, said that the Kerem Shalom crossing was closed Sunday due to around “around 200” protesters demonstrating there.

The demonstrators oppose aid reaching Gaza until all Israeli hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups are released, an AFP correspondent reported, adding some of the participants in the rally had their relatives held hostage.

The war was triggered by Hamas’ unprecedented attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of some 1,140 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

Around 250 people were also taken hostage by Palestinian militants during the attack. Around 100 of them were released in a late November truce.

Israeli officials say at least 132 hostages remain captive in the Gaza Strip, 28 whom are believed to have been killed.

Israel launched a retaliatory invasion of the Gaza Strip after the October 7 attack, vowing to topple Hamas, which seized control of the territory in 2007, and free the hostages.

According to Gaza’s health ministry, at least 26,422 people, the vast majority of them women, children and adolescents, have been killed in the Israeli operation.

Israeli demonstrators had previously barred some aid trucks from entering the Kerem Shalom crossing on Thursday and Friday.

“The inability to deliver food, water and medical aid will worsen the already disastrous humanitarian situation,” the UN humanitarian aid coordination office, OCHA, said last week.

COGAT said that 260 trucks loaded with aid had entered Gaza on January 21, the most in a given day since the start of the war.

But OCHA said that in the first half of January it had seen “a decline in access to areas in the north and center of the Gaza Strip” for aid delivery, partly due to “excessive delays by convoys at crossing points.”

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