Jordan says Israeli settlers attacked its Gaza aid convoys

Amman accuses Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of failing to protect its lorries carrying humanitarian supplies

The lorries that Jordan says were attacked were stocked with Jordan Hashemite Charity Organisation aid. Bloomberg
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Jordan said two of its aid convoys bound for Gaza were attacked by “extremist Israeli settlers” on Wednesday.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry “condemned in the strongest terms” the attack on the convoys, which left Jordan on Tuesday.

Both convoys were heading to the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza when they were attacked, it said.

One of the convoys had originally been heading for the Beit Hanoun crossing, which is also known as the Erez crossing, but had been redirected.

“The ministry considered the failure of the Israeli government to protect the two aid convoys, and allowing them to be attacked, as a brutal violation of its legal obligations, as the occupying power and of its obligations to allow aid to enter Gaza,” the foreign ministry said.

The Jordanian statement did not give details of how or where the convoys were attacked.

Honenu, an Israeli legal aid agency, said four men had “blocked aid trucks going to Gaza” as they were passing near the occupied West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim, and were later detained by Israeli police.

Israeli media reported that the right-wing Tzav 9 organisation, which is opposed to aid being sent to Gaza while there are still hostages being held in the enclave, had organised a demonstration to block the convoys overnight on Tuesday.

Tzav 9 have previously attempted to block aid reaching Gaza, including by staging a sit-in at the Nitzana crossing, where aid enters Israel from Egypt to be checked, earlier this month.

Videos shared online showed people attempting to block the progress of the trucks.

The Times of Israel reported that the Israeli military declared the area around the Allenby Crossing between Israel and Jordan as a military zone overnight. However, the Israeli military later denied these reports and said it did not enforce a closed military zone.

Violence carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank has increased since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7, with tension in the territory simmering.

The launch of the aid convoys from the outskirts of Jordan's capital, Amman, was attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Those lorries were supposed to be the first to enter from Jordan through the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing, and Mr Blinken had hailed their departure.

“It is real and important progress but more still needs to be done,” Mr Blinken said on Tuesday.

“We have to make sure that our focus is not only on inputs but on impact, and really measuring whether the aid that people need is actually getting to them in an effective way.”

However, the Jordanian ministry suggested the convoy bound for Erez had been redirected to Kerem Shalom before it came under attack.

Jordan later confirmed that a convoy of 31 trucks had entered Gaza from the Beit Hanoun/Erez crossing, and another 48 trucks were expected to cross via Kerem Shalom by the end of the day.

The lorries were carrying humanitarian aid including food and flour, collected by the Jordan Hashemite Charitable Organisation.

Sealed boxes were labelled with charity names, including those of Arab-American and US-based Islamic groups.

A Jordanian official on Tuesday said the shipment would feed 100 to 150 families for about a week.

Gaza is in need of vast quantities of aid. The UN has repeatedly warned that many of the enclave's 2.3 million people are at risk of famine and starvation.

After visiting Jordan, Mr Blinken travelled to Israel, where he met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Before the meeting, he said he would press Israel to agree on a “clear affirmative list” of goods needed in Gaza so they are not subject to “arbitrary denials”, which aid groups have previously said are part of the reason that not enough aid has reached the people of Gaza.

Mr Blinken is also in Israel to push for a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal, which he says is in the hands of Hamas.

A senior western diplomat who spoke to The National questioned whether Mr Blinken's seventh trip to the region since the start of the war in October was warranted.

“Why would Blinken succeed this time when he had failed each time before?” the diplomat said.

King Abdullah II to visit Italy and US

As Mr Blinken was in Israel, Jordan's King Abdullah II left on a working visit to Italy and the US.

“The business trip to the two countries come in the framework of the efforts that Jordan is making to reach an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza,” the Jordanian Royal Palace said on Wednesday.

The palace did not give any further details of the king's itinerary.

King Abdullah met Mr Blinken in Amman on Tuesday and also visited Washington in February, where he met US President Joe Biden.

Jordan is dependent on Washington for aid and security and signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

However, Amman and Washington have different positions on Israel's war in Gaza.

Jordanian officials have repeatedly criticised Israel's conduct and called for an immediate permanent ceasefire and a two-state solution to the conflict.

Jordan has also been opposed to a postwar scenario envisaged by Washington under which Arab forces would participate in maintaining security in Gaza if Hamas is defeated, diplomats who met recently with senior Jordanian officials told The National.

“The Jordanian view is that such a force would be to reward Israel for the war,” one of the diplomats said.

Updated: May 01, 2024, 5:27 PM