US has raised Israeli ‘criminals’ attacking aid trucks with Netanyahu, State Department says

The US has raised the issue of attacks against aid trucks and drivers carrying desperately needed humanitarian supplies into war-torn areas of Gaza, a spokesman for the State Department said.

Matthew Miller said at the agency’s daily press briefing that the Biden administration had raised concerns about those attacks with the government of Israel, but gave no information about tangible actions the US could or would take to ensure those crossings were free from violence committed on the Israeli side.

“Yes, we have raised it with the Israeli government. It's been a topic of discussion with our UN partners as well,” Miller said on Monday in response to a question from The Independent.

“This isn't anything that's new. It's an issue that has kind of gone up and down over time, but there have been times before where trucks were being attacked by criminals and then seeing the aid diverted and sold on the black market,” Miller went on. “Recently, it's been an issue again, that has limited the distribution of some of the humanitarian assistance inside Gaza. So it is something that we have worked with, not just with Israel but with UN organizations as well.”

The State Department has for months been claiming that US officials are constantly pressuring their Israeli counterparts to allow more aid to enter Gaza. But Monday’s remark may be the first time the US has confirmed that the issue has specifically been raised with Israel’s government as an issue to be solved.

Last week, the Biden administration took its own steps to address the problem and issued sanctions against members of a group known as “Tsav 9”, which reportedly has ties to Israel’s rightwing settler movement. Those sanctions were specifically in response to the group members’ involvement in attacks on aid trucks.

The White House has also directed the construction of a temporary pier in Gaza to allow the passage of some aid by sea. Last week, the Department of Defense said that more than 1,000 tons of humanitarian aid were delivered into Gaza through the pier following a temporary two-day closure from June 9-10.

In May, the State Department issued its first direct public statement calling on Israel to “do more” and “hold actors like this accountable” after videos emerged of settlers destroying some packages of humanitarian aid after sacking a convoy at the Tarqumiya crossing.

Spokesman Vedant Patel at the time said that Israeli officials “need to do more to hold actors like this accountable when action is taken that is inconsistent with what we know is important, which is getting more humanitarian aid into Gaza”

“Humanitarian aid must not, and can not, be restricted, stopped or interfered with,” Patel continued.

That same day, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said that the “level of aid [to Gaza] remains insufficient”.