Arab-Jewish Movement Standing Together Plans to Guard Gaza Aid Convoys From Right-wing Looters

12:00 May 18 2024 Tarqumiyah (ترقوميا) border crossing

Arab-Jewish Movement Standing Together Plans to Guard Gaza Aid Convoys From Right-wing Looters Arab-Jewish Movement Standing Together Plans to Guard Gaza Aid Convoys From Right-wing Looters Arab-Jewish Movement Standing Together Plans to Guard Gaza Aid Convoys From Right-wing Looters
Photos: Published by Haaretz
Trucks attacked and looted by far-right protesters near the West Bank separation barrier, on Monday. Credit: AFP

Israeli right-wing activists destroy humanitarian aid on trucks at the Tarqumiyah border crossing in the West Bank, on Monday. Credit: Sapir Slutzker-Amran

A convoy of 30 vehicles driven by Israeli activists from the 'Standing Together' movement gather in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon before heading to the border with the Gaza Strip, in March. Credit: Jack Guez / AFP

To counteract an effort by right-wing activists to prevent aid trucks from reaching Gaza, Standing Together plans to form a buffer zone and hopes police will help maintain the peace

by Rachel Fink for Haaretz
May 18, 2024 11:13 am IDT

A grassroots movement focused on an Arab-Jewish partnership plans to mobilize Israelis in an attempt to quell the recent spate of attacks on trucks carrying humanitarian aid into Gaza perpetrated by right-wing settlers.

The group – Standing Together – is a large, fast-growing movement dedicated to "mobilizing Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel in pursuit of peace, equality, and social and climate justice," according to their website.

On Sunday, they plan to assemble a "Humanitarian Guard" at the Tarqumiya Border Crossing, where aid convoys prepare to enter Gaza from Israel. On Monday, Israeli right-wing activists looted one such convoy, ripping open bags of flours and smashing boxes of food. A few hours later, the activists returned and set fire to two of the trucks.

The Humanitarian Guard plans to use their cars to form a buffer zone around the aid trucks as they travel towards Gaza in order to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

"The settlers mobilize their activities over WhatsApp groups so we know they are planning to be at the Sunday aid delivery," explained Rula Daood, the national co-director of Standing Together. "So we will be there too."

Daooud stressed that they are hoping to avoid any sort of violent confrontation. "There is always the risk that something physical might happen, of course, but engaging with the settlers is not our goal," she said. "Instead, we not only want to call attention to what is happening at the border crossing, but we hope that our presence there will bring accountability to the police and the army."

"We know from our other activities over the last three months, and from what happened on Monday, that they do not step in when settlers start blocking or attacking the trucks," Daood went on to say. "But we have also seen that when we are there, the police do try and keep our two groups separate. So if we are next to the trucks, that might keep the settlers away from the aid."

During the settler's raid on the aid convoy last Monday, two independent Israeli activists, Sapir Slotzker Imran and Neta Hamami Tabib attempted themselves to stop the settlers from destroying the food, Slotzker Imran wrote on Instagram. The post also highlighted the lack of police action and interference against the settlers.

Sunday will be a pilot for what Standing Together hopes will eventually be an ongoing program. They have previously attempted to bring their own convoy of supplies to the Gazan border, but this will be the group's first time employing the Humanitarian Guard to help protect Israel's aid, and as such they plan to take things slowly while they figure out how they can be most effective.

"All in all, we have about 100 members who have signed up," Daood explained. "They'll be divided into two groups. The first group will go in the morning, just to observe. To get the lay of the land. Then the second group will be there for the act itself."

Daood acknowledged that any event that involves the police poses a greater danger to some of Standing Together's members than others. "Our Palestinian members are at a much higher risk of being arrested, even at political rallies," Daood said. "But they still want to help in whatever way they can. It's why we always have the option to donate to an event rather than actively participate in it."

The Humanitarian Guard is part of Standing Together's overarching mission to fundamentally change prevailing attitudes towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "The most important thing to understand is that preventing food from getting to starving Palestinians isn't just morally wrong." Daood said. "It also doesn't benefit anyone."

"Of course, it's terrible for those living in Gaza. But it doesn't help Israeli citizens either," Daood continued. "Letting these violent fascists, the ones who dream of resettling Gaza, commit violence and act without impunity, only brings all of us to more death and violence. This is our opportunity to change that."
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