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IDF said to transport Gazan orphans to West Bank via Israel without cabinet’s OK

The Israel Defense Forces reportedly rescued over 70 orphans from the Gaza Strip and facilitated their transport to the West Bank, via the outskirts of Jerusalem, in an unusual operation that started on Sunday and continued into Monday.

Far-right ministers were quick to criticize the reported move, as it came during ongoing war with Hamas in Gaza, and while 130 hostages taken during the terror group’s grisly October 7 massacre in southern Israel remain in captivity.

According to a Channel 12 news report, the operation was approved by the National Security Council and conducted in coordination with the Civil Administration. The convoy was expected to cross into the West Bank at 6 p.m. on Monday.

The orphans were reportedly accompanied by dozens of adult staff members from the SOS Children’s Village in southern Gaza’s Rafah that was relocating to Bethlehem in the West Bank.

  • The humanitarian gesture was said to have come at the request of the German embassy in Israel.
  • “He who is compassionate to the cruel will ultimately become cruel to the compassionate,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote on X, formerly Twitter, quoting a rabbinic adage. “I demand clarification from the prime minister on who gave this immoral order and with what authority, while our hostages and their children are held captive by the enemy.”

The hostages were kidnapped on October 7, when thousands of Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israeli communities, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and capturing another 253, over half of whom remain in the hands of Gaza terror groups.

  • National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also slammed the reported operation, calling it a “fake humanitarian measure.”
  • “This is not how a country that strives for absolute victory is run,” Ben Gvir said, echoing a phrase that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly employed during the war. “In war, you have to crush the enemy, without being sanctimonious all the time.”

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid shared the report on X, quipping, “Is there anything that the cabinet does get updated about?”

According to Channel 12, IDF troops were mobilized along the convoy’s route from the Taba border crossing with Egypt to the French Hill tunnels near Jerusalem, leading to the West Bank.

The report came amid a mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with the United Nations last week calling on the international community to “flood” the Strip with aid amid reports that children are dying of starvation in the densely populated coastal enclave.

US President Joe Biden announced plans earlier this week to build a temporary port on the Gaza coast to facilitate direct delivery of aid, with Washington increasingly frustrated with the Israeli government’s unwillingness to open more land crossings for critically needed supplies to make their way into Gaza.

Israel says it does not restrict humanitarian or medical aid and has blamed the lack of deliveries on the capacity of aid agencies.

Source: TOI