Egypt opens air corridor for aid to besieged Gaza
Egypt is facilitating international aid flights for Gaza at El-Arish International Airport in northern Sinai, its Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday, emphasizing the urgency of providing relief to Palestinians affected by the Israeli military blockade.
“The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is open for business and has not been completely closed,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said, adding that the Palestinian side had been damaged by “repeated” Israeli shelling.
“Egypt demands that Israel refrain from striking the Palestinian side of the border crossing so that the repair and reconstruction efforts are successful and allow it to function as a checkpoint and a lifeline for the Palestinian brothers,” the ministry stated.
Israeli Defense Forces have dropped bombs and cut off water and electricity to the densely populated Palestinian enclave, reportedly leaving residents desperate for food, fuel, and medicine. The military said the blockade would remain in place until Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls much of Gaza, released dozens of hostages captured during a bloody weekend invasion. Hamas launched what it termed Operation ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ on Saturday, firing rockets and sending commandos deep into Israeli territory.
Israel has reported at least 1,300 deaths and 3,300 injuries as of Thursday, while Palestinian authorities in Gaza have confirmed 1,203 fatalities and 5,763 injuries since the conflict began.
Cairo, which shares a border with the southern part of the narrow coastal region on the Mediterranean Sea, has expressed concern about the Israeli forces’ total blockade.
Egypt’s El-Arish airport, located about 45 kilometers from the Gaza border, was ready to receive aid shipments from Qatar and Jordan, but these would not be delivered until humanitarian corridors were established, Reuters reported, citing Egyptian security sources.
“There is no justification for targeting civilians and exposing them to killing, besieging, starving or displacing, in a way that is inconsistent with the principles of international and humanitarian law,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at a press briefing on Thursday.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is based on territorial claims, has been a source of friction for decades. A UN resolution backed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1947 called for the creation of two states, Israel and Palestine. Only Israel, however, came into being.
Egypt often plays a key role in mediating the conflict between neighboring Israel and Palestine. On Tuesday, the North African country’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, said he hoped for a solution through negotiations that would result in a fair peace settlement and the “establishment of a Palestinian state.”