Western doctors who visited Gaza talk about “atrocities”

Palestinian tribes and factions intervene to protect the aid provided to Gaza

Palestinian officials and sources in the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) said that armed and masked men from a group of tribes and factions began providing security for aid convoys in Gaza, as Hamas tries to maintain its influence in the Strip.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed a convoy of trucks entering Gaza City carrying aid from abroad during the night, while a number of men armed with AK-47 rifles and others carrying sticks watched.

With the Israeli forces vowing to eliminate Hamas since the attack they launched on Israel on October 7, the appearance of anyone associated with the movement to provide security to deliver aid to those civilians who need it has become a risky matter.

Palestinian officials and Hamas sources said that for this reason, many tribes, civil society groups and factions, including Fatah, intervened to help provide security for aid convoys.

The officials and sources did not mention the names of the tribes and factions, but they said that Hamas’s ability to rally such groups behind it in terms of security shows that the movement still maintains its influence, and that Israel’s efforts to build its own administrative system to maintain order in Gaza are facing resistance.

A Palestinian official, who requested to remain anonymous, said: “Israel’s plan to find some tribes to cooperate in its experimental projects to find an alternative to Hamas did not succeed. Rather, it also showed that the Palestinian resistance factions are the only ones capable of managing the matter one way or another.”

An IDF spokesman declined to comment, saying rules of engagement for an active war zone cannot be discussed publicly.

Fatigue is afflicting the civil system

Health officials in Gaza say that the Israeli attack on the Strip has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 Palestinians and turned a large part of the Strip into rubble. The fuse of war was ignited after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, which it said led to the death of 1,200 people and the taking of more than 200 hostages.

The popularity of Hamas, which has run Gaza since 2007, is based on the social services it provides to poor Gazans, educational programs, and charitable aid.

With public order strained and civilian police fearing that the Israeli army will target their personnel, ensuring the safe distribution of supplies becomes increasingly difficult.

Dozens of Palestinians were killed last month by Israeli gunfire, after crowds surrounded a convoy of aid trucks that was entering northern Gaza. Israel said that many of them died as a result of stampedes and trampling, and that it did not open fire until its forces felt threatened by the advancing crowd.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said that Israel is open in principle to having Palestinians secure areas in the Gaza Strip after it is “cleansed” of Hamas, so that it can agree to the formation of an armed police.

He added: “But this is more of a project for the day after (the war) than a policy that can be implemented at the present time. We will need to ensure that individuals do not have ties to Hamas. They certainly do not serve the interests of Hamas, directly or indirectly.”

Juliette Touma, Director of Communications and Media at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), did not have any information about the presence of masked men securing the convoys.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said that the United Nations does not work with the tribes.

He added: “We were trying to get the Blue Police (Palestinian Civil Police) back on track again. “Israel has targeted the Blue Police in several incidents, because it considers them part of Hamas’ infrastructure.”

He continued, saying: “Therefore, we are trying to find the best appropriate way to deliver aid to the north and other parts of the Gaza Strip. “By combining the use of community groups with the careful use of the police whenever possible.”

Shimon Friedman, spokesman for the Coordination Unit of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli military body that handles aid transfers, said that distributing aid in Gaza falls to international organizations.

He added: “While we help in the distribution process and help coordinate those convoys and allow them to pass through our humanitarian corridor, the aspects of that are up to them.”

A prominent police official was killed

Yesterday (Monday), Israel said that it had killed Major General Faiq al-Mabhouh, the head of operations for the Palestinian police in Gaza, during a raid on Al-Shifa Hospital in the central Strip.

Hamas said that Al-Mabhouh was responsible for protecting and securing aid trucks in Gaza, and was coordinating with the United Nations regarding protecting the distribution of aid.

Hamas accused Israel of carrying out the attack to influence the protection of aid and create chaos in the Gaza Strip. Israel denied accusations of using starvation as a weapon of war.

Shehab News Agency, which is linked to the Hamas movement, reported today (Tuesday) that Israel also killed another police official, Raed Al-Banna, who was supervising the delivery of aid to Jabalia in northern Gaza. She added that he died in an air strike on his house, which also killed his wife and children. Israel did not immediately comment on this news.

As part of the plan to manage Gaza after the war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering empowering local representatives who are not affiliated with Hamas or other armed groups, but it is not clear who these people are.

In Gaza, there are large traditional family clans affiliated with political factions, including Hamas and Fatah, which dominate the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Some large clans are believed to be heavily armed. Some tribal leaders publicly rejected Israel’s plan, saying they could not replace UN relief agencies helping Palestinian refugees, or be an alternative to local authorities.

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