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Israel’s far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has spit in the face of Washington, by blocking grain shipments into Gaza. The Times of Israel reported yesterday that Smotrich confirmed that he had taken that action in an attempt to stop the shipments from reaching UNRWA, and thence (allegedly) Hamas. He wrote on X that he was “coordinating with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to investigate a different distribution mechanism that won’t [include aid reaching] Hamas.”

Smotrich claimed there was “wall-to-wall consensus” in the government, in the aftermath of Israeli allegations, still unproven, that employees of UNRWA took part in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, that humanitarian aid to Gaza had to be prevented from reaching Hamas through UNRWA. According to Axios, Israel was therefore looking into handing humanitarian aid over to other aid agencies such as the World Food Programme, in the hopes that Smotrich would release the flour to them.

ToI notes that blocking the flour shipments into Gaza violates a commitment Israel made to the U.S. a few weeks ago, in which Netanyahu promised to allow 150 truckloads of flour into the Gaza Strip. The flour was supposed to arrive at Israel’s Ashdod Port and enter Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing. However, according to Axios, the shipments have been held up at the Ashdod Port for weeks. In a press briefing on Feb. 13, U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that an American shipment of flour had already gone through Israel into Gaza and that the State Department was “engaging with the government of Israel to try and make sure” that flour deliveries continued.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also confirmed that the flour has not moved. “That flour has not moved the way that we had expected it would move, and we expect that Israel will follow through on its commitment to get that flour to Gaza,” Sullivan said, when asked about the delay during a White House press briefing yesterday.