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Aid into Gaza: Israel’s sadistic games

SOLOMON HUGHES investigates the machinations of the Israeli state and to what extent the headline ‘aid drops’ by sea and air are diversion tactics from its grim starvation plan to drive Palestinians from Gaza

WHEN the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen (WCK) in Gaza this month it brought IDF-backed plans to deliver Gaza aid by sea to a temporary halt.

The IDF is promoting both sea and air aid deliveries, even though all aid groups agree they are much less effective than bringing lorry loads to Gaza by land. It’s arguable that the IDF backs these eye-catching but inefficient sea and air routes because they get lots of press coverage while delivering limited aid.

Aid groups will try any method they are allowed to get food into Gaza, but by pushing them towards these sea and air routes, the IDF generate news stories about aid being delivered, while actually squeezing aid deliveries.
 
The “sea” route from Cyprus to Gaza was opened by two charities: Open Arms ran the ship while WCK built the temporary jetty from the rubble of bombed buildings and distributed the food.

Open Arms is a Spanish charity that runs a ship rescuing asylum-seekers in the Mediterranean. WCK were not well known in Britain before the IDF killed its staff, including some British former servicemen working as their security detail. It is famous in the US, where it was founded by Spanish-American celebrity chef and restaurateur Jose Andres.
 
Open Arms said its sea delivery into Gaza ended “20 years of naval blockade in the Gaza Strip.” But this was misleading, implying the delivery somehow breached the IDF’s control of Gaza’s borders. The IDF controls sea and air space around Gaza, which is why it was considered the “occupying power” even when IDF troops were not on the ground.

The ship’s delivery and the building of the crude jetty were all agreed upon by the IDF, with the aid checked by Israeli security in Cyprus. WCK are already active in Gaza: their volunteers have cooked millions of meals for Palestinians during the crisis.

WCK has been clear the best way to avoid famine is to bring in lorries by road. Even as it announced its sea crossing, WCK’s founder Andres “called for a ceasefire and opening of as many land crossings as possible as the best ways to ensure Palestinians get the meals and water they need.”

Before the war around 500 lorries entered Gaza each day. This dropped to around 100 under Israeli restrictions. Because the IDF has destroyed Gaza’s farming, the need for aid is much greater if famine is to be avoided. One WCK ship can only deliver about 10 lorryloads of food.

Before Israel killed their staff, I had asked both WCK and Open Arms if there was a danger they were being manipulated by Israel’s permissions to move towards newsworthy but much less effective sea deliveries, overshadowing the lack of land routes, but they did not respond. The IDF casually killing WCK volunteers in a drone strike further suggests Israel’s leaders aren’t genuinely interested in their aid operation and were cynically using it to gain political advantage.
 
The IDF has also encouraged airdrops. Britain has now joined the US in air drops of food. These are even less effective than sea deliveries. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said Israel must “open more land crossings” even when announcing the airdrop of 10 tonnes of food from a British Hercules plane in March, alongside the Jordanian air force, which has been dropping medical supplies by air into Gaza to supply their hospitals for some time.

As with sea routes, these airdrops take place thanks to Israel’s agreement. The MOD confirmed Britain obtained a diplomatic agreement with Israel for the air drops, while Jordan arranges the timetabling with the IDF so the planes aren’t shot down.

I also asked the MOD if there was a danger Israel was manipulating them, by pushing them towards high-publicity but lower-value aid deliveries while restricting land routes. The MOD declined to comment.
 
The killing of the WCK aid workers has created a wave of bad publicity for Israel’s war on Gaza’s people: it’s arguably a bit dispiriting that the IDF killing some Western aid workers causes Israel’s government more problems than their killing of hundreds of local UNRWA aid workers or tens of thousands of Gazan civilians.

But the fact the IDF will so easily kill people it supposedly supports, like WCK, does show claims that the IDF make efforts to protect innocent Palestinians are hollow. In the wake of the attack on these aid workers, Israel has been forced to give in to US demands and allowed up to 700 aid trucks to cross into Gaza over two days.

This was welcome and also illustrates how the existing barrier to aid deliveries is Israel stopping or slowing land deliveries. There are many land routes into Gaza — not least those used by the IDF to bring troops, so many land deliveries are possible.
 
I do not believe Israel will, without massive pressure, stick to these land aid deliveries. Israeli government figures have repeatedly said they will use food as a weapon in Gaza. There is a big political movement inside Israel arguing to “starve Gaza into submission.” So it is also likely Israel will resume promoting inefficient air and sea aid routes to draw international attention away from this grim strategy.

WCK may have abandoned their ship deliveries, but the US is also planning a temporary seaport with British assistance while airdrops are continuing. It’s understandable aid groups get caught up in these plans, even while they are sceptical of the lack of land routes because they will use whatever methods are available, believing “all aid is good aid.” Western governments also like to be “seen to do something.” But the IDF’s manipulation of aid deliveries is a very cruel plan.

Follow Solomon on X @SolHughesWriter.

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