Palestinian truckers fear for safety after aid convoy for Gaza wrecked

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A view of trucks carrying aid to Gaza that were stopped after they were damaged by Israeli settlers near a checkpoint near Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 14,2024. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

Hebron, West Bank (Reuters) – Palestinian hauliers said on Tuesday they feared for the security of aid convoys to Gaza, a day after Israeli protesters wrecked trucks carrying humanitarian supplies bound for the enclave, which is facing a severe hunger crisis.

Footage circulated on social media showed at least one burning truck while other images showed trucks wrecked and stripped of their loads, which lay strewn over the road near Tarqumiya checkpoint outside Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

“Yesterday there was coordination for 70 trucks of aid to go the Gaza Strip,” said Waseem Al-Jabari, Head of the Hebron Food Trade Association.

“While the trucks were uploaded with products at the crossing settlers attacked the trucks and they destroyed the products and set fire in trucks,” he said, saying Israeli soldiers had stood by as the attack took place.

Monday’s incident was claimed by a group calling itself Order 9, which said it had acted to stop supplies reaching Hamas and accusing the Israeli government of giving “gifts” to the Islamist group.

No comment was available from the Israeli military. The Israeli police said the incident, in which a number of people were arrested, was being investigated.

The violent protest drew condemnation from Washington, which has urged Israel to step up deliveries of aid into Gaza to alleviate a growing humanitarian crisis in the enclave, seven months since the start of the war.

British Foreign Minister David Cameron also condemned the “appalling” incident, saying Israel must call the attackers to account.

Palestinians and human rights groups have long accused the Israeli military and police of deliberately failing to intervene when settlers attack Palestinians in the West Bank.

Adel Amer, a member of the West Bank-based hauliers’ union, said around 15 trucks had been damaged by Israeli protestors who beat some drivers and caused about $2 million worth of damage.

“The drivers are now refusing to take goods to Gaza because they’re afraid,” he said.

“It’s a disaster here because of the settlers.”

Even when the military was present, the convoys were still at risk, he said.

“The army says we cannot do anything to the settlers.”

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