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Biden administration imposes sanctions on Israeli group blocking humanitarian aid into Gaza

By Kylie Atwood, Jennifer Hansler and Hande Atay Alam, CNN

(CNN) — The Biden administration on Friday imposed sanctions on an Israeli group for disrupting humanitarian convoys headed to Gaza.

Both the US Treasury Department and the US State Department took action against the Tzav 9 movement for its repeated obstruction of the aid.

The sanctions against the organization are the latest punitive measure taken under an executive order targeting those perpetrating violence in the West Bank. They come as the US continues to grapple with the crisis in Gaza, where humanitarian officials say the situation has reached one of its lowest points in the entire eight-month conflict

The Tzav 9 movement, a grouping of demobilized reservists, families of hostages and settlers, has been leading protests to disrupt the critical aid convoys at Kerem Shalom, the country’s sole functioning border crossing with Gaza. Its name, meaning “Order 9,” is a reference to the emergency mobilization notices that call up reservists.

At the end of February, the area was declared a closed military zone, due to international pressure, but protesters continued to arrive and try to outmaneuver the police.

“For months, individuals from Tzav 9 have repeatedly sought to thwart the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including by blockading roads, sometimes violently, along their route from Jordan to Gaza, including in the West Bank,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Friday.

“They also have damaged aid trucks and dumped life-saving humanitarian aid onto the road.  On May 13, 2024, Tzav 9 members looted and then set fire to two trucks near Hebron in the West Bank carrying humanitarian aid destined for men, women, and children in Gaza,” he said.

Miller said the Israeli government “has a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian convoys transiting Israel and the West Bank enroute to Gaza.”

“We will not tolerate acts of sabotage and violence targeting this essential humanitarian assistance,” he said. “We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to promote accountability for those who attempt or undertake such heinous acts, and we expect and urge that Israeli authorities do the same.”

In a statement Friday, Tzav 9 described the Biden administration’s imposition of sanctions as “shocking,” adding, “It is a fatal blow to the families who aim to stop the aid to the enemy Hamas in time of war.”

The statement also accused the Biden administration of acting “against the families of hostages who fight to get their loved ones back from Hamas’s hands.”

The statement claimed without evidence that aid “falls directly into the hands of the terrorist organization Hamas.” The US and humanitarian aid organizations say they are not aware of widespread diversion of humanitarian assistance by Hamas.

Reuters first reported that the sanctions were being imposed.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order earlier this year allowing sanctions on those causing West Bank violence. The order has been used to roll out sanctions on Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians in recent months.

CNN’s Clarissa Ward and Brent Swails contributed to this report.

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