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According to the BBC, Israeli activists/vigilantes (as worded in the article) are attacking aid lorries, questioning and attacking unrelated road users, clashing with pro-aid activists, and operating without reprisal from attending police:

In recent weeks, social media has been flooded with images of aid lorries being blocked and ransacked.

Right-wing activists, including Jewish settlers living in the occupied West Bank, have uploaded dozens of videos of crowds, including some very young children, hurling food onto the ground and stamping on boxes of aid.

Other videos show Israeli vigilantes stopping lorries in Jerusalem and demanding that drivers show papers proving they are not transporting aid to Gaza. Their faces are uncovered and they appear to be acting with complete impunity.

In the West Bank, at least two drivers who were not carrying goods bound for Gaza were dragged from their cabs and beaten.

The peace activists have accused the police, under the control of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, one of the most hardline members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, of doing little to stop the attacks.

This has been on and off the news for the past few months. Why aren't the police preventing the vandalism and the assault? Surely taking such action would benefit Israel by improving world opinion?

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    "Why are Israeli activists blocking aid from reaching Gaza" and "Why aren't Israeli police doing anything to stop it" are two completely different questions. The former is answered by the activists themselves in the linked article (they believe it will put pressure on Hamas to release the remaining hostages, and that Hamas is stealing the aid anyway), so I'd recommend editing to focus on the latter.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented May 25 at 13:02
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    "Surely taking such action would benefit Israel by improving world opinion?" This is answered in the linked article as well - basically, they don't care about world opinion.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented May 25 at 13:03
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    @F1Krazy Good spot will edit Commented May 25 at 13:28
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    In general, it is unpopular for a government to repress local activists to the benefit of foreigners. In the current situation, doubly so. For example, for years after Spain's entry into the EU, French farmers did attack trucks carrying Spanish produce, as they did not want the competition, and the French police did basically nothing until EU tribunals condemned France to pay indemnities.
    – SJuan76
    Commented May 25 at 17:04
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    According to a Washington Post article, the activists are "working off what they say are tips from Israeli soldiers and police, in addition to the public". Commented May 27 at 17:28

6 Answers 6

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First, a high degree of impunity for far-right vigilantes in Israel is nothing new. If you are familiar with the "price tag" attacks and all-out rampages against Palestinian villages, what we're seeing with the blocking and looting of aid should be unsurprising. Over decades, Netanyahu and others have occasionally denounced some of this, but relatively few arrests are ever made when compared with the extent of the violence. Even when settlers attack the IDF itself, that is largely tolerated.

Second, since the current war on Gaza began, Israeli policy has all but explicitly been to do as much as possible to prevent aid from reaching Gaza without directly banning it all, citing security concerns. Israel refuses to facilitate safe aid delivery through normal means, which as led to this absurd scheme with the floating piers. Allowing vigilantes to disrupt aid deliveries is consistent with that pattern of disallowing aid while maintaining plausible deniability.

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    Do you have some source for your second paragraph? It is consistents with the results I can see from far away but as is this is just a claim by someone on the internet.
    – quarague
    Commented May 26 at 10:49
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    @quarahue Made some edits. The CNN link has a telling quote from Netanyahu where he was openly bragging about the "minimal" amount of aid being allowed through.
    – Brian Z
    Commented May 26 at 12:22
  • Some context: 1) the ratio of incidents of Palestinian violence targeting lives vs the number of incidents of Jewish actions (including graffiti) is about 500:1. 2) About 50% of reported incidents are deliberately faked calls. 3) More than double the aid per day enters Gaza now than before Oct. 7th, which Israel does nothing to impede besides security checks.
    – Zev Spitz
    Commented Jun 2 at 4:34
  • @Zev Spitz - I looked at both your references, which are from the same source (Jewish News Syndicate), with datelines a bit stale (Feb/Mar). After an (admittedly brief) overview, it seems to promote an exclusively right-wing point of view, with rather vague attributions to its own sources. This makes me hesitant to accept your premise. Could you perhaps provide other more credible sources to support your argument?
    – MadMonty
    Commented Jun 7 at 22:50
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Because the Israeli police in general have trouble stopping large groups of citizens who want to do something.

This isn't something new regarding the current conflict.

  • Just last night, due to the war in the north of Israel, Israel closed off a religious area that is typically visited by thousands of citizens during Lag Be'omer (last night). And yet, there were a group of citizens who stormed the place and occupied it for a while until the police got them out.
  • For the past few years protesters have been shutting down main highways for various protests (against the judicial reform, to pressure PM Bibi to quit, or to pressure the government to make a hostage deal).

This isn't unique to Israel. Don't forget when Canadian truckers were able to bring the capital city to a halt, or when Americans raided the capital building. Some may call this a bug of democracy, others will call it a feature. Protesting (even violently) is a way to escalate a situation and require politicians to explicitly state if they are for or against a cause, rather than letting nameless police restore the status quo.

Specifically, protecting the aid trucks is very hard to do. This isn't a static location that can have barriers and guards, it has to drive across the country, including through rural places with narrow roads. All it takes is for a quick roadblock to be set up, and for the people to unload and destroy the food within an hour. If there was a military convoy protecting it, what would the soldiers do? Shoot their fellow citizens? That is not something that many people like to do. Arrest everyone? That would take a large amount of soldiers, who are currently occupied fighting a war.

In the end, even with the case of Israeli aid trucks, the government's objectives have been achieved. There are truckloads of aid waiting at the Gaza boarder (they are not entering Gaza, but for completely different reasons).

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According to Hebrew Wikipedia about a hundred activists have been arrested for blocking the aid trucks.

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The official Israeli police response is that there have been no cases where they were called to intervene in an attack on a foreign aid convoy headed towards Gaza that they have ignored.

Thy have also said about at least one known attack on an aid convoy that it was was under investigation and that multiple suspects had been detained.

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    As the occupying power, Israel is responsible for protecting the aid convoys in Gaza as well (Art. 55 GCIV). I'm removing latter half of the answer as inflammatory political misinformation (predates the Geneva Conventions and the Nazis were the occupying power, not the Allies).
    – JJJ
    Commented May 27 at 2:08
  • Please try to add references for the remaining part of your answer, it's not that trivial to verify.
    – JJJ
    Commented May 27 at 2:09
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    @JJJ, Only in areas of Gaza which are under Israeli control. This war is a compilation of "clearing operations". Therefore, as of now, very little of Gaza is actually under Israeli control.
    – Jacob3
    Commented May 29 at 20:37
  • @Jacob3 That's certainly Israel's position. It's too complicated to discuss in comments, but some of the positions are outlined in this article by the Atlantic Council entitled "Israel claims it is no longer occupying the Gaza Strip. What does international law say?".
    – JJJ
    Commented May 29 at 21:44
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Israel Police said Tuesday that six people were arrested overnight as dozens of protesters blocked an aid convoy heading to the Gaza Strip and damaged some of the goods it was carrying.

Activists from Tzav 9, a right-wing organization that opposes aid being sent to Gaza while hostages are still held there, blocked roads at various points along the trucks’ route as they made their way from Jordan to Gaza, damaging some and spilling goods onto the road.

https://www.timesofisrael.com/six-israelis-arrested-for-attacking-damaging-aid-convoy-heading-to-gaza/

It must be said that those are accusations. We don't really know if they're doing little to stop the attacks. However, people have been arrested for this, and the protesters have been accusing the police of siding with Hamas.

Tsav 9 told Kan in a statement that “officers are using serious violence to clear activists” and claimed that one protester was knocked unconscious, requiring medical care.

“It is lamentable that Israel Police is doing everything in order to transfer aid to the Hamas terrorists,” the group said and vowed to continue its actions against the “terror trucks until the last of the hostages comes back.”

We may have more statistics in the future to determine if the police is deliberately doing as little as possible, but for now it's mostly a matter of opinion.

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I will provide a partial technical answer.

We need to acknowledge, that not all the territories, that state of Israel executes control over are recognized by international community as such. Moreover, for variety of reasons, Israel itself did not extend its sovereign law to all the territories under its control [civil or military]. For example, most of the West Bank area is the territory with such status.

On territories, where Israel did not extend its law, things are governed according to military rule [I suppose the Commander of Central District, some major general of the Israel Defense Force is the governor of the territories]. Accordingly, Israel Police is not the authority on those territories.

On the other hand, the right wing activists engaging in the activities are all Israel citizens. And as such are not expected to be handled by the army. This is a loophole, and is causing significant outrage outside and inside Israel.

Many times, these activists are being detained by the order of the governor for prolonged time intervals, which is not seen as something that should be allowed in the democracy.

This time, I suppose, Israel authorities are also favourably see the activities as promoting the non-government cause, which politically serves the parties in coalition.

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