Soldiers, protesters brawl at Kerem Shalom entrance to Gaza

The activists were trying to stop aid trucks from entering Gaza • A boy was reportedly injured during the fracas.

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Gaza, Hamas
People protest against aid trucks entering Gaza, at Kerem Shalom in southern Israel, Feb. 22, 2024. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
People protest against aid trucks entering Gaza, at Kerem Shalom in southern Israel, Feb. 22, 2024. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

Clashes broke out between Israeli security personnel and protesters at the Kerem Shalom crossing to Gaza on Thursday morning.

Dozens of demonstrators arrived there to protest against the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip while Israeli hostages are still being held by Hamas. The activists say that the war effort is being harmed because the terrorist group steals the aid.

Hamas diverts up to 60% of the aid going into Gaza.

“The 30 protesters report severe violence that began after the soldiers put on face masks. The soldiers pushed them into a tight corner, punched and kicked them—and even [hit them] with rifle butts,” said Honenu, an Israeli Zionist legal aid organization, as quoted by Ynet.

“One of the soldiers picked up a large stone and slammed it forcefully into the back of the head of one of the protesters—a boy who needed medical treatment. In addition, after the girls tried to record the violence, the soldiers took the phones from them and threw them away, and as a result, they broke,” Honenu continued.

Protest groups gathered at Kerem Shalom for six consecutive days last month, prompting the Israel Defense Forces to declare that area a closed military zone.

Before the order, the protesters had successfully blocked some aid trucks from entering Gaza.

Activists have also attempted to block the aid trucks at the smaller Nitzana crossing to Sinai and at the Ashdod port.

The effort to block aid into Gaza, including food and fuel, is being led by the Tzav 9 (“Order 9”) movement, which is determined to protest until the last Israeli hostage is returned home. Tzav 9 is a reference to the Tzav 8 emergency mobilization notices IDF reservists received on Oct. 7.

“There is no logic in bringing the trucks directly to the hands of Hamas terrorists,” the organization said. “We are ready to be tested in real-time, together with thousands of supporters who demand that the supplies to Hamas be stopped. No aid should pass until the last of the hostages returns.”

The protests have led to several arrests, including that of Yehuda Dee at the Kerem Shalom crossing when he tried to block supply and aid trucks from getting to Hamas. Yehuda Dee is the son of Lucy Dee, whom a Palestinian terrorist murdered in the Jordan Valley on April 7, 2023, along with her daughters Maia and Rina. The family is also survived by Rabbi Leo Dee, Yehuda’s father, and sisters Keren and Tali.

On Dec. 15, Israel’s Security Cabinet approved the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing for the transfer of aid to the Strip after intense US and international pressure. All the Israeli crossings to Gaza had been shuttered after the Oct. 7 massacre, with only Egypt’s Rafah crossing from Sinai remaining open.

Israeli grassroots movement Mothers of IDF Soldiers, together with the IDF Reservists movement, gathered outside the US embassy in Jerusalem last month to demand an end to aid to Gaza.

“We support the Israeli government’s decision to wage war and eradicate Hamas, and we are grateful and appreciative of the sacrifices our soldiers make on a daily basis to protect the State of Israel,” Mirit Hoffman, an English-language spokeswoman for Mothers of IDF Soldiers, told JNS.

“We do not support sending humanitarian aid, otherwise known as Hamas aid, to Gaza,” she added. “Since the Biden administration has been putting pressure on the Israeli government to do so, we are going to the source.”

With reporting by JNS.