The Israeli War Cabinet voted unanimously to allow “the entry of two diesel fuel tankers per day for the needs of the United Nations to support water and sewer infrastructure,” according to a statement by an Israeli official who spoke with foreign media.
A total of 60,000 liters of fuel was to be delivered to Gaza within a 48-hour period that began Friday.
However, the decision was greeted with outrage by other government ministers and members of the opposition, forcing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convene the political-security cabinet on Saturday night to discuss the decision.
“Once again, policy decisions are made in the war cabinet, which leads Israel to a wrong conception. As long as the hostages are not even visited by the Red Cross, there is no sense in giving ‘humanitarian gifts’ to the enemy,” said Otzma Yehudit Leader and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Religious Zionism chair and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich likewise warned that sending fuel into Gaza “conveys weakness, injects oxygen into the enemy, and allows [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar to sit in an air-conditioned bunker comfortably, watch the news, and continue to manipulate Israeli society and the hostages’ families.
Yisrael Beytenu chair and former Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman also opposed the decision to deliver the fuel “without any humanitarian gesture to the hostages.”
In response to the criticism, PM Netanyahu explained at a press conference on Saturday night that the sole purpose of the fuel delivery was to keep the sewage facilities running to prevent a breakout of disease, which Netanyahu said would spread to our soldiers and into the rest of Israel.
Intense US, International Pressure
The approval came in response to a “special request” from the Biden Administration in Washington DC, and other governments.
The US, Qatar and other governments have consistently pressured Israel over the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, much of which thus far has been stolen by Hamas terrorists, who beat back the civilians for whom it is intended.
Nevertheless, the move was recommended by the IDF and the Shin Bet intelligence agency.
Former Defense Minister and war Cabinet member Benny Gantz, a member of the opposition, contended that the decision was “not a question of changing strategy but of providing a specific response that serves the IDF’s continued combat.”
The fuel is to be transferred via the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt to power the desalination and sewage facilities run by UNRWA, according to Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.
“We took that decision to prevent the spread of epidemics,” Hanegbi said. “We don’t need epidemics that will harm civilians or our fighters. If there are epidemics, the fighting will stop.”
However, a Palestinian Authority border inspector said the first delivery of 17,000 liters of fuel entered the enclave on Friday “for the telecommunications company” Paltel, according to a report by Barrons.
Communications and internet service went out in Gaza on Thursday due to the lack of fuel.