US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, canceled his planned tour of the Kerem Shalom crossing on the Gaza Strip border yesterday (Wednesday). The purpose of the tour was to witness the arrival of trucks carrying humanitarian aid into the Strip. However, the visit was called off due to concerns raised by Israel regarding potential disruptions by right-wing demonstrators.
Recent protests at the Kerem Shalom crossing, which oppose the transfer of humanitarian aid while Israeli hostages are held by Hamas, have heightened tensions between Israel and Egypt, as well as within Israeli security forces.
The humanitarian aid trucks, originating from Egypt, enter the Gaza Strip through two routes after undergoing security checks in Israel. However, demonstrations organized by the group "Order 9", composed mainly of far-right activists from West Bank settlements, have successfully disrupted aid shipments in recent weeks.
Despite a preliminary tour conducted ahead of Blinken's planned visit, where representatives from various agencies including the IDF, police, Israeli Foreign Ministry, and the US Embassy participated, concerns persisted. Protesters managed to block nine trucks on the day of the preliminary tour, causing delays in aid delivery.
Protest activists distributed posters urging demonstrators to disrupt Blinken's planned visit. With the Israeli authorities unable to guarantee the safety of the visit, it was decided to cancel Blinken's tour.
Following the start of the demonstrations at Kerem Shalom, the commander of the Southern Command, Major General Yaron Finkelman, issued a closed military area order for the area. However, despite efforts to increase security presence, protesters managed to breach the crossing, underscoring the challenges faced by Israeli security forces in managing the situation.
The cancellation of Blinken's visit highlights the delicate nature of humanitarian aid operations in the region and the challenges posed by political tensions and protests.