J Street Horrified by Reports of Dozens Killed in Aid Convoy Incident Amid Humanitarian Catastrophe

February 29, 2024

J Street is horrified by reports that dozens of Palestinian civilians were killed and wounded as they desperately tried to reach food supplies from a humanitarian convoy accompanied by Israeli troops. While facts remain contested, we are deeply distressed by reports that, amid the chaos, civilians were trampled, the IDF opened fire on crowds, and others were run over by trucks. We support the Biden Administration’s efforts to seek urgent clarification from Israeli counterparts.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said: “This horror and chaos is symptomatic of a much wider-scale problem that the Netanyahu government has created by refusing to listen to President Biden and pursuing policies that restrict aid and delegitimize partners they could be working with. They are putting desperate Palestinian families and young Israeli soldiers in impossible positions with predictably catastrophic results.”

“Scenes like this are exactly what security officials have been warning about if the Netanyahu government fails to pursue a workable ‘day after’ plan for services, order and aid deliveries. It underscores the need to get more aid in, ensure it doesn’t come under fire once it enters, and secure a negotiated break in the fighting that gets hostages out and grants a reprieve to the devastation. This should never have happened.”

This incident comes as the supply of lifesaving aid has almost entirely come to a standstill for a host of reasons including limits imposed by Israeli authorities, threats from Hamas militants, failed deconfliction efforts, and the near impossibility of delivering aid safely amid intense military operations. As one US official told Axios: “The current situation isn’t working […] Food must come in or we are going to have famine in Gaza – and this is going to dramatically damage Israel.”

We agree. The Netanyahu government’s continued rejection of US and international appeals to change course runs against our values and interests and does real and lasting damage to Israel’s reputation across generations and around the world – placing Israel’s allies in an increasingly untenable position. There can be no legal or security justification for the purposeful restriction of life-sustaining aid to civilians in a war zone. Indeed, this incident illustrates the added security challenges brought about by humanitarian deprivation.

The Biden Administration cannot accept the Israeli government’s continued obstruction of humanitarian aid and must continue to press for success in the negotiations ongoing now to urgently bring at least a temporary halt to the fighting.