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Screenshot of a video showing Israelis destroying aid destined for Gaza. Screenshot
Memorial Day

Israeli settlers block and loot food convoy as President Higgins condemns attacks on aid for Gaza

Videos showed a mob of mostly young people gleefully taking cargo off the trucks, ripping open bags of rice, flour and sugar.

YESTERDAY WAS ISRAELI Memorial Day and some far-right colonial settlers in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank spent the afternoon blocking an aid convoy destined for Gaza, destroying its cargo with no apparent intervention from the military or police. 

Videos showed a mob of mostly young people gleefully taking cargo off the trucks, ripping open bags of rice, flour and sugar, throwing it on the ground, stamping on it, and leaving the road strewn with food. 

It was not the first time Israelis have blocked aid access to Palestinians at checkpoints and border crossings since the latest war on Gaza began in October. This latest example occurred at the Tarqumiya checkpoint west of Hebron in the Occupied West Bank. 

In February, young Israelis blocked access to the Kerem Shalom border crossing while camping out, dancing and singing. Once again, soldiers stood by and watched

There have been other similar incidents since October with those participating saying that they do not want food to enter than could help Hamas, even as much of the population of Gaza faces famine and people have resorted to eating animal feed or grass.

Throughout Israel’s campaign in Gaza, officials from the Israeli military (IDF), government officials and Israel’s lawyers at the International Court of Justice have insisted that there has been no obstacle to aid flowing into Gaza. 

UN agencies, humanitarian NGOs and other countries have refuted those claims. 

President Michael D Higgins denounced the incident at the Tarqumiya checkpoint in a statement issued today, in which he also condemned the Israeli targeting of aid convoys in Gaza. 

“All those who support human rights, humanitarian relief, the United Nations and its Charter must be appalled at the attacks which are being witnessed on aid convoys providing vital humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza,” the President said.

He pointed to two incidents that occured yesterday, which he said demonstrated the “appalling circumstances” aid workers are facing.

The first was in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza where the IDF is planning an imminent full-scale invasion. 

A vehicle “clearly marked with the United Nations emblem” came under fire, killing a UN staff member. More than 240 UN aid workers have been killed in Gaza since October. 

The second was the looting and spoiling of the food delivery at the Tarqumiya checkpoint.

“A convoy was surrounded by a mob with food packages thrown on the road and bags of grain ripped open. These attacks are taking place at a time when people are suffering from starvation,” Higgins said.

Higgins made reference to reports from Human Rights Watch which show that these attacks on aid convoys were not isolated events. 

“On a matter like this there can be no equivocation,” said Higgins.

“It must be condemned by all those who believe in humanitarian principles. Silence on this matter would reflect badly on any member of the European Union.”

The White House described the incident in the West Bank as “a total outrage”.