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Israeli Minister Blocks US Flour Shipments Into Gaza

by | Feb 15, 2024

Israeli Minister Blocks US Flour Shipments Into Gaza

by | Feb 15, 2024

israeli prime minister benjamin netanyahu and finance minister bezalel smotrich arrive to attend a cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in jerusalem

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich arrive to attend a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool/File Photo

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is blocking a US-funded flour shipment into Gaza that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu previously vowed would be allowed into the Strip, Axios reported on Tuesday.

Officials said that Netanyahu personally made the commitment to President Biden several weeks ago and that the Israeli war and security cabinets approved the delivery to be made through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, where Israelis have been protesting against humanitarian aid shipments into Gaza.

Smotrich’s office says he blocked the shipment because it’s going to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Israel recently accused 12 UNRWA employees of participating in the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel, but the intelligence dossier the allegations were based on provides no evidence for the claim, according to media outlets that obtained the document.

Regardless of the lack of evidence, the US and several other countries suspended funding for UNRWA as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are facing famine-like conditions. Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general, also admitted he fired the UNRWA employees accused of attacking Israel without evidence. He said an investigation is ongoing and that the employees would be compensated if the allegations were found to be false.

Smotrich is still claiming UNRWA is a “central part” of the “Hamas war machine.” His office said he was blocking the shipment in coordination with Netanyahu and claimed it would be able to go through if they found a new delivery mechanism.

Any delays in aid shipments could mean death for the Palestinians in Gaza. Palestinians are beginning to starve to death, but the scale of famine-related deaths is unclear at this point as it’s not being properly tracked, according to the American aid group Anera.

The aid group said that one of its staffers had heard from a friend in north Gaza who lost their six-year-old son to starvation.

“in the tragic circumstances of starvation in Gaza, there’s a compounding issue: many who perish from starvation-related symptoms aren’t accurately documented. Their deaths often get attributed to other physical causes, masking the true toll of starvation,” Anera said in a press release.

This article was originally featured at Antiwar.com and is republished with permission.

Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com. Follow him on Twitter @decampdave.

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