US sanctions extremist Israeli group blocking aid to Gaza

The Biden administration on Friday issued sanctions against what it describes as a violent, extremist Israeli group that has been blocking, harassing and damaging humanitarian aid convoys bound for the Gaza Strip.

The sanctions target individuals with the group Tzav 9. Sanctioned individuals are generally blocked from entering the U.S. and have any property or interests in the U.S. frozen. Other individuals or groups or entities that associate with sanctioned individuals also risk being sanctioned.

“For months, individuals from Tzav 9 have repeatedly sought to thwart the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including by blockading roads, sometimes violently, along their route from Jordan to Gaza, including in the West Bank,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

“They also have damaged aid trucks and dumped life-saving humanitarian aid onto the road.   On May 13, 2024, Tzav 9 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.”

The sanctions against Tzav underscore a segment of Israeli society that supports a maximalist military approach to Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, following the Hamas attack on Oct. 7. Some of these Israelis say humanitarian aid must be blocked to the strip because it inevitably ends up in the hands of Hamas.

While some Israeli officials have implemented short-lived policies to block aid to the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government facilitates aid through a few crossings, and under pressure from the Biden administration has worked to increase the number of trucks transiting Israel from Jordan to reach the strip.

“The provision of humanitarian assistance is vital to preventing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza from worsening and to mitigating the risk of famine,” Miller continued in his statement.

“The Government of Israel has a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian convoys transiting Israel and the West Bank enroute to Gaza. 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.”

The actions by the Tzav group further demonstrate spiraling violence in the West Bank. President Biden’s authority to sanction the group was established in February, with an executive order granting the president powers to hold individuals and groups accountable for threatening peace, security and stability in that area.

In February, Biden sanctioned four Israelis for violence in the West Bank, and the administration has also sanctioned a Palestinian militant group in the West Bank.

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