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At the edge of Gaza, Israelis try to stop aid trucks

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Angry Israelis cut across a field of stubble to try to get around a police blockade to disrupt shipments of food and supplies intended for Gaza.

For weeks Israeli border officers allowed protesters to disrupt the critical aid convoys at Kerem Shalom, the country’s sole functioning border crossing with Gaza. But at the end of last month, with international pressure and condemnation mounting, authorities announced they were moving additional officers to the crossing to take back control. But even with the area now declared a closed military zone, protesters continue to arrive and try to outmaneuver the police.

Watch the video to see the scene.

The protests are being led by the “Tsav 9” movement, a grouping of demobilized reservists, families of hostages and settlers. Its name, meaning “Order 9,” is a reference to the emergency mobilization notices that call up reservists.

The protesters say they fear the aid is helping militants still holding their friends and relatives hostage, five months after the murderous cross-border raids led by Hamas that killed about 1,200 people in Israel with 200 more being taken prisoner. They hope preventing food and supplies from entering Gaza will force Hamas to release them. A recent poll by the Israel Democracy Institute found that two-thirds of Jewish Israelis support their view opposing the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Watch the video to see protesters say why they don’t believe food should be sent to Gaza.

The war in Gaza has killed more than 30,000 people, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, and the remaining population has been forced from their homes and struggle to survive. The World Health Organization says food and safe water have become scarce and diseases are spreading. There is a surge of acute malnutrition, it says. Children are dying.

But aid has been slow to reach those in desperate need. Israel restricts what can go in, and a UN official said from February 24 to March 3 fewer than 1,000 trucks entered the strip, far below the required 500 daily.

Some countries started dropping aid from the air, and the US, UK and European Union are setting up a shipping corridor in the Mediterranean to access Gaza directly, but the UN says road access remains vital to stop a deepening of the catastrophe.

On Thursday, the Israeli border police ensured aid trucks got through at Kerem Shalom, but only after turning away several attempts by protesters over the course of several hours. As the day wore on, officers took a more aggressive stance against protesters.

Watch the video to see the tense exchanges.

This is a critical moment for aid delivery through Kerem Shalom as Gaza inches closer to famine. According to Gaza’s health authorities, at least 17 children have died from malnutrition and dehydration already.

Many more are sick. Inside Kamal Adwan Hospital – the only pediatric facility still operating in the north of Gaza – doctors are struggling to treat 7-year-old Fadi al Sant.

Watch the video to see Fadi, suffering from severe dehydration and malnutrition, with his mother.

Here’s how to help humanitarian efforts in Israel and Gaza.

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