Israel to allow foreign aid into Gaza
The Israeli government has said it will not prevent aid shipments to Gaza through Egypt as long as no supplies are sent to Hamas. The decision was announced after a visit by US President Joe Biden, who reportedly helped to coordinate the assistance.
In a statement on Wednesday night, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that while Israel would not let any aid to come to the Palestinian enclave from its own territory, it would allow humanitarian transfers from Egypt “as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population located in the southern Gaza Strip.”
“Any supplies that reach Hamas will be prevented,” he added, noting that the decision was made at the request of the US president.
Biden traveled to Tel Aviv on Wednesday to show support for Israel amid ongoing fighting with Palestinian militants in Gaza. The latest bout of violence erupted following a deadly Hamas terrorist attack earlier this month, which Biden likened to “fifteen 9/11s” for “a nation the size of Israel.”
The US president said 20 truckloads of aid would come from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza starting on Friday. The UN will help to distribute the supplies, though Biden stressed that the assistance would be halted if goods wound up in the hands of Hamas. He suggested there could be a “second tranche” of aid, but said he would “see how it goes.”
Egypt announced on Thursday that it would reopen the Rafah crossing for the purpose of the “sustainable” transfer of humanitarian assistance, according to presidential spokesman Ahmed Fahmy.
Khalid Zayed, the head of the Red Crescent for North Sinai, told reporters that 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid were heading towards Rafah or are already stationed there.
The UN and international human rights groups have been warning about the dire humanitarian situation unfolding in Gaza after Israel cut the supply of electricity, water, and fuel, and urged more than 1 million Palestinians to immediately evacuate to the southern part of the densely populated enclave.
Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled for safety amid heavy Israeli airstrikes, and the UN has warned of an “unprecedented catastrophe” in Gaza due to “rapidly dwindling” stocks of food, fuel, and medicine.
Israeli officials said the supplies would not be restored from their end until Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups free hostages taken during their deadly October 7 raid into Israeli territory.
Around 1,400 people in Israel have been killed in this month’s hostilities, as well as over 3,000 Palestinians, according to local officials.