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Gaza Aid-Worker Tragedy Risks Overshadowing IDF Efforts to Protect Humanitarian Routes

Aerial view shows a World Central Kitchen (WCK) barge loaded with food arriving off Gaza, where there is risk of famine after five months of Israel’s military campaign, in this handout image released March 15, 2024. Photo: Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

JNS.orgMonday night’s unintentional Israeli drone strike on a World Central Kitchen aid convoy traveling along the Gaza coast, in which seven aid workers were killed, risks overshadowing a series of recent steps by the Israeli military to facilitate the flow of aid into the Strip.

Following the tragic incident, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held an assessment with Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Tuesday, together with senior members of the defense establishment. Gallant referred to the tragic nature of the incident and emphasized the importance of conducting a thorough, professional investigation, which will be followed by the implementation of lessons learned.

“The minister reflected on the complex environment in which IDF troops are required to operate on a daily basis and acknowledged the importance of strengthening coordination mechanisms with key partners,” according to a statement from his office.

In addition to ordering a team to be set up immediately to investigate the incident, Gallant instructed the defense establishment to establish a joint situation room between the IDF’s Southern Command and the international aid organizations to better coordinate the distribution of humanitarian goods in Gaza. He also ordered the IDF to support distribution mechanisms by allocating appropriate resources and to brief international organizations and partners on the details of the incident and subsequent actions being taken.

In recent months, the IDF has worked closely with WCK to distribute aid to Gazans. Earlier in the war, the organization came to the assistance of Israelis after the Oct. 7 mass murder assault. Indeed, according to IDF Spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, “they were one of the first NGOs here.” The work done by the organization “is critical; they are on the frontlines of humanity,” he said on Tuesday, adding, “We will get to the bottom of this and we will share our findings transparently.”

Monday’s tragedy occurred just as the IDF was growing into an expanded role concerning the humanitarian effort in Gaza, increasingly protecting routes used by aid convoys, with an emphasis on northern Gaza. Convoys had previously struggled to reach northern Gaza, due to looting by Hamas and criminal gangs. As part of its efforts to address the challenge, the Israeli military is also opening new routes for aid trucks.

The expanded IDF effort also comes against the backdrop of the U.S. pier initiative, for which the Israeli military will also coordinate complex security arrangements. The initiative will involve ships carrying goods from Cyprus docking off the Gaza coast at a floating pier—to be built by the United States—for distribution to multiple locations in Gaza.

The IDF is expanding its role with regard to aid distribution alongside ongoing ground operations against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad throughout the Strip. The Israeli War Cabinet has so far refrained from establishing a dedicated military administration in Gaza, likely due to concern that such an administration could push Israel into long-term civilian commitments in Gaza.

Working on plans to secure floating pier

Some former defense officials have argued that establishing a temporary Israeli military administration would greatly weaken Hamas’s efforts to reestablish itself as a terror regime in Gaza. However, the War Cabinet has instead ordered the IDF to focus on securing aid routes and coordinating security for multiple humanitarian-aid initiatives.

On March 26, Politico reported that Israel had agreed to provide security for the floating pier and to establish a “security bubble” around it, defending American personnel building it and those taking part in offloading and distribution.

Israeli defense sources have confirmed that they are working with United States Central Command “around the clock” on securing the pier.

Last week, a U.S. team arrived in Israel to examine how the aid would arrive from Cyprus after undergoing security screening by Israel.

The IDF is not only protecting humanitarian efforts on land and at sea but also via its Iron Dome air-defense batteries. Iron Dome is protecting ongoing airdrops being conducted by the U.S. Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force.

The IDF has also helped coordinate the construction of six field hospitals in Gaza—built by Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and aid organizations—and is examining ways to build another two.

Gaza is already receiving significant humanitarian aid via ground convoys, but distribution of the supplies within the Strip has proven difficult.

The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit and the IDF have been working in recent weeks to find creative solutions to the distribution problem, including the sending of trucks into northern Gaza directly from Israel.

Between Oct. 7 and mid-March, Israel facilitated the entry of more than 300,000 tons of food, water, medical supplies and other aid into the Gaza Strip via more than 16,000 trucks.

Between March 15 and March 25, the IDF enabled 1,322 trucks carrying 23,360 tons of aid to enter Gaza, while facilitating routes from southern to northern Gaza and opening new roads.

Northern Gaza, where some 300,000 people are believed to remain (despite IDF evacuation calls for them to move south) has been receiving some 30 aid trucks a day.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continue to operate throughout Gaza, with the most high-profile recent activity being the two-week operation at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, which ended on Monday.

At the Shifa compound, the military killed some 200 Hamas and PIJ terrorists and captured approximately 500, as well as hundreds of additional suspects that could be added to the latter figure following an identification process. Large quantities of intelligence are being gathered from questioning the terrorists and from scanning seized documents and computers.

The post Gaza Aid-Worker Tragedy Risks Overshadowing IDF Efforts to Protect Humanitarian Routes first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing

The University of Toronto is now seeking a court injunction to put and end to the encampment in King’s College Circle after the 8 a.m. deadline passed Monday morning—while unionized workers joined students, faculty and other protesters at a rainy morning rally. Shortly after the ultimatum hour, the university announced in a statement from UofT […]

The post University of Toronto seeks injunction to end protest encampment over ‘harmful, discriminatory’ speech outlined in court filing appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire

Mayor Olivia Chow was among those who addressed the crowd.

The post Monday morning saw the Toronto community and politicians showing support for the Chabad girls’ school struck by weekend gunfire appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Chatsworth, South Africa, May 18, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

South African Jewish leaders castigated their country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for what they described as him calling for a “genocide” against Jews in Israel over the weekend.

Ramaphosa was speaking at an election rally in Johannesburg on Saturday when he deviated from his prepared speech to lead the crowd in in a chant of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine shall be free” — a popular slogan among anti-Israel activists that has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

The address took place at FNB Stadium, where South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally before South African elections on Wednesday. According to Politicsweb, a news website focused on South Africa, a call for the release of the “hostages held in Gaza” who Hamas terrorists kidnapped from southern Israel on Oct. 7 appeared in Ramaphosa’s prepared remarks but not in his final speech.

The South African Jewish community lambasted Ramaphosa for his remarks in a statement shared with The Algemeiner, expressing “its revulsion at the introduction of a call to exterminate Jews from their homeland” by the president.

“The president of the ruling ANC party and the head of state of a democratic country has called for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the culmination of the ANC president’s election speech made to thousands of ANC members and on national television,” said Wendy Kahn, national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD). “He uses the populist slogan ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be Free,’ which is widely regarded as a call to genocide of the Jewish people. The call to remove all Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea equates to removing all Jews from Israel.”

Kahn compared the slogan with Hamas’ goal to “see Israel as ‘Judenfrei,’ or Jew free,” before noting that such an endpoint contradicts the South African government’s stated policy of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The chanting of this slogan by a head of state of a government that recurrently tries to express their commitment to a ‘two-state Solution’ as their policy on Israel and Palestine is hypocritical to the full,” the SAJBD said. “How does a sitting president reject his own government and own party’s international relations policy? This reconfirms our understanding that President Ramaphosa and his government are not looking for a peaceful solution to the tragic conflict, but rather to cause discord among fellow South Africans against its Jewish community.”

Kahn added, “The president’s contempt for South African Jewry is evident in this unscripted outburst at the rally which amounts to nothing more than Jew hatred. The SAJBD is reviewing its options for holding the president accountable for these hateful words.”

South Africa’s ANC government has been one of the harshest critics of Israel since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists launched the ongoing war in Gaza with their invasion of and massacre across southern Israeli communities.

South Africa temporarily withdrew its diplomats from Israel and shuttered its embassy in Tel Aviv shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom, saying that the Pretoria government was “extremely concerned at the continued killing of children and innocent civilians” in Gaza.

In December, South Africa hosted two Hamas officials who attended a government-sponsored conference in solidarity with the Palestinians. One of the officials had been sanctioned by the US government for his role with the terrorist organization.

Earlier this month, members of South Africa’s Jewish community protested Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor’s recent call for students and university leaders to intensify the anti-Israel demonstrations that have engulfed college campuses across the US.

In January, the South African government failed in its bid to argue before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s defensive war in Gaza constituted a “genocide.” However, the top UN court last week ordered Israel to halt its military operations against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The emergency ruling was part of South Africa’s ongoing case at the ICJ.

The post ‘A Call for Genocide’: South African Jews Blast Country’s President for Chanting ‘From the River to the Sea’ first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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