Israeli ‘violent extremist group’ that blocked and destroyed Gaza aid sanctioned by US

Humanitarian aid being trucked into Gaza  (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Humanitarian aid being trucked into Gaza (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

The United States has imposed sanctions on an Israeli extremist group that has blocked and destroyed shipments of humanitarian aid meant to alleviate conditions in Gaza.

In a statement, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the US was sanctioning an organization called Tzav 9, which he described as “a violent extremist Israeli group that has been blocking, harassing, and damaging convoys carrying life-saving humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza.”

Miller explained that members of the group have spent months seeking to stop needed aid from reaching Gaza by blocking roads between Jordan and Gaza, occasionally using violence while doing so.

He also said the group’s members have damaged aid trucks and spilled aid onto roads, including during an incident last month when group members “looted and then set fire to two trucks near Hebron in the West Bank carrying humanitarian aid destined for men, women, and children in Gaza”. Miller stressed that the Israeli government remains responsible for protecting humanitarian aid convoys as they bring “vital” assistance to Gaza during conditions that many have described as a famine.

“We will not tolerate acts of sabotage and violence targeting this essential humanitarian assistance.  We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to promote accountability for those who attempt or undertake such heinous acts, and we expect and urge that Israeli authorities do the same,” he said.

The sanctions against Tzav 9 are being imposed under an executive order signed by President Joe Biden which gives the State Department the power to target entities found to be “responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in actions — including directing, enacting, implementing, enforcing, or failing to enforce policies — that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the West Bank.”

Last month, the department imposed sanctions on a Palestinian group known as Lions’ Den, which is headquartered in the Old City section of Nablus. Miller noted that the group had claimed responsibility for a pair of shootings in the fall of 2022, including an October 2022 incident that saw bullets fired at a taxi driver as well as shots directed at a settlement called Har Bracha.

The US has also sanctioned two Israeli settlers — Yinon Levi and David Chai Chasdai — as well as a pair of groups that raised funds for the settlers. Levi and Chasdai have been known to engage in violence against Palestinians living in the West Bank, according to the State Department.