Far-right minister Ben-Gvir rages at Israel police for 'protecting Gaza aid convoys'

Far-right minister Ben-Gvir rages at Israel police for 'protecting Gaza aid convoys'
Ben-Gvir expressed anger that a significant number of police officers were tasked with monitoring aid trucks destined for war-hit Gaza.
3 min read
21 May, 2024
The extremist Minister of National Security is notoriously supportive of the war on Gaza [Getty/file photo]

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has lashed out at the country’s police for "protecting" aid convoys headed to the war-hit and besieged Gaza Strip last week, Israeli media reported.

Ben-Gvir, a staunch supporter of the war in Gaza, reportedly walked through the Tarqumiya checkpoint in the occupied West Bank last Tuesday, and was "surprised" by the significant police presence, sources cited by Haaretz said.

After the visit Ben-Gvir, who heads the extreme-right Otzma Yehudit ("Jewish Power") raged at Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai last Thursday, the Israeli news site said.

Shabtai responded that he was "obeying instructions" and was "fulfilling his duty as commissioner".

"This can't be what my cops are doing, instead of fighting terrorism. That's not why I do what I do, ensuring your salaries. I don't want you doing these missions," he said, according to Haaretz.

"Why are my cops here? Why are they doing this, that's not their job," he was overhead saying over the phone during the same incident.

Ben-Gvir was on his way to an ultra-nationalist rally in the southern Israeli city of Sderot near the Gaza Strip when he stopped by the checkpoint, where he saw the number of police officers.

At the rally, the extremist minister said that he "opposes" humanitarian aid being sent to Gaza. Ben-Gvir has a history of violent incitement against Palestinians.

Live Story

Despite the presence of police officers, several truck drivers were assaulted by Israeli extremists, after they vandalised vehicles carrying humanitarian relief for Gaza, destroying food packages, and setting two convoys on fire.

Ben-Gvir was particularly angry as two police special units, one of which is usually tasked with demolishing Palestinian homes in the Naqab (Negev) desert, were assigned to "safeguard the aid trucks".

Following the outburst, one police officer, Major-General Amir Cohen responded to Ben-Gvir: "This is a policy decision and this is the job of the Israel Police. We are exercising our responsibility."

Ben-Gvir demanded that the trucks’ security is transferred to what Israel calls the Judea and Samaria Area and Judea and Samaria Border Police, or the Military Police.

These units have less training than the two units that the police commissioner assigned to the mission, Haaretz said.

At Thursday's security cabinet meeting, the extremist politician told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that "the time has come to cut back, let's vote" upon learning that 30,000 police officers were assigned to dealing with handling aid truck passages.

Amid the violence against Gaza aid convoys, a group of Israeli peace activists travelled with a Gaza-bound truck on Sunday in an effort to protect it from members of the extremists, AFP reported.

Sunday's aid convoy was comprised of about 30 trucks, one of which was attacked by extremist. One teenager was removed by police from the scene after he threw some aid on the ground.

"These aid trucks, each truck can be the one tool that saves the life of a five-year-old child," activist Oshra Bar said, from the grassroots group Standing Together.

There is a desperate need for humanitarian relief  in the Gaza Strip, which was been under relentless Israeli bombardment and siege for over seven months.

Food insecurity and a looming famine have been threatening several parts of the enclave, triggering a humanitarian crisis amid several UN warnings.

At least 35,562 Palestinians have been killed by Israel's military onslaught in Gaza, mostly women and children.