As 1,000 Gazan traders enter Israel, some question humanitarian relief on heels of rockets

“There has never been a reaction [like this] to balloons from the previous government,” said a longtime resident of Israel’s south.”

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

In an act of humanitarian relief, Israeli authorities opened the Erez border crossing for the first time in 18 months on Wednesday morning, permitting some 1,000 Gazan traders to enter Israel.

Israel also announced it would allow medical and telecommunications supplies to be brought into the Strip for the first time since May 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls clash.

But the decision was not met with fanfare by either side.

Some Israelis believe that the decision to allow humanitarian relief after rockets were launched from the Strip just two days ago projected weakness.

In February 2021, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told Kan News that “it’s a shame and a disgrace that we transferred vaccines to Gaza, as long as our soldiers and our citizens are held there.”

Shaked’s sentiment was echoed in a statement released last Friday by Israeli authorities before the launch of the rocket, which said that the Gazan traders were being allowed to enter Israel as a reward for “the preservation of security stability” in the region.

And in recent days, a number of lawmakers criticized Bennett for not retaliating after the launch.

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Sderot mayor Alon Davidi, a member of Bennett’s Yamina party, told Army Radio that the decision not to strike back immediately was “a serious mistake, especially in light of his previous remarks that each balloon or rocket fired will [trigger] a response.”

Davidi said Bennett is “flip-flopping” on security policy, which has serious implications for both Israeli citizens and the state.

MK Betzalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism party slammed Bennett’s decision as politically motivated.

“His government depends on … a Hamas sister movement [the Ra’am party] and he knows full well that a confrontation with Hamas could bring it down,” Smotrich wrote on Twitter.

“In order to become prime minister, he endangered Israel’s security.”

And some reports from the Arab world seem to agree that Bennett’s goodwill gestures are suspicious, questioning his true motivations.

Palestinian groups consider such gestures “meaningless” and an effort to divert attention away from Israel’s failure to fulfil the terms of the ceasefire agreement, the Al Quds daily reported.