An Israeli official, who spoke anonymously to Reuters on Friday, said that the war cabinet of Israel agreed to let two fuel trucks enter Gaza every day to meet UN requirements.
The official said that the US government asked for this decision, which was made by the war cabinet – a group that includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister Benny Gantz and some others.
Reuters reported, using the official’s words, that this fuel allowance gives Israel more “flexibility in the global arena to pursue its goal of eliminating Hamas in Gaza.”
The official said that the fuel would help avoid outbreaks of disease by giving “basic” assistance to Gaza’s water, sewage, and hygiene systems.
However, the decision angered many high-ranking Israeli politicians, as the fuel shortage was threatening “the whole structure of the humanitarian aid” in Gaza, where untreated sewage was running in the streets, according to the UNRWA chief, who helps Palestine refugees.
Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who belongs to the Religious Zionism party and recently supported proposals by Knesset members for “countries of the world” to accept an influx of Palestinian refugees from Gaza, slammed the decision, labeling it a “scandal”.
“It’s a decision that spits in the faces of IDF soldiers, the kidnapped, and their bereaved families,” Smotrich said in a letter addressed to Netanyahu, which he posted to his Facebook account on Friday.
“It is also against the decision of the state-security cabinet, and therefore it is illegal. That’s not how you win a war, that’s how you don’t exterminate Hamas, and that’s how we don’t return the stolen,” he continued.
Smotrich also demanded a change to the makeup of the war cabinet following the decision.
“I demand that the composition of the war cabinet be different and that it will include a representative of every party that has joined the coalition.”
National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also criticised the war cabinet’s decision to allow small amounts of fuel into Gaza.
“As long as our kidnapped don’t even get a visit to the Red Cross, there is no sense to give the enemy ‘humanitarian gifts,’” Ben-Gvir said in a post on Facebook on Friday, referring to the over 200 Israelis taken captive by Hamas.
“It’s a finger in the eye for IDF soldiers, the bereaved families, and the missing and abducted families,” he continued.
Avigdor Liberman, the head of the opposition party, Yisrael Beytenu, also shared his criticism of the decision on X (formerly Twitter).
“Stop fueling the Nazis from Hamas! The declarations that ‘a drop of fuel’ would not enter the Gaza Strip, turned into the actual introduction of tens of thousands of litres of fuel unilaterally, without any humanitarian gesture to our abductees,” he wrote on Friday. “I call for an immediate stop to the lawlessness.”
Adding to the chorus of criticism, Israel’s Transport Minister, Miri Regev, called on Israel’s National Security Advisor, Tzachi Hanegbi to “immediately convene the security cabinet,” according to Haaretz.
Following the 7 October attacks in which Hamas combatants killed over 1,200 people in southern Israel, Israel has been backed by the US in its retaliation.
The US also endorsed Israel’s claim that Hamas has been using Gaza City’s al-Shifa hospital as command headquarters, a claim it doubled-down on Thursday.
“We have our own intelligence that convinces us that Hamas was using al-Shifa as a command and control node and most likely as well as a storage facility,” White House spokesperson John Kirby said, responding to questions from reporters on the limited evidence provided by Israel to back its claim that Hamas used al-Shifa as a command centre.
But the relationship between the two allies has privately come under pressure after over 11,000 Palestinians were killed in Israeli bombardments in Gaza, with over 4,000 of the dead being children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.