5/5 © Reuters. Trucks carrying aid arrive on the Palestinian side of the border with Egypt as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, October 21, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa 2/5
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Aidan Lewis
GAZA/CAIRO (Reuters) – The first humanitarian aid convoy sent to the besieged Gaza Strip since the outbreak of war arrived through the Rafah border crossing on Saturday after becoming stranded in Egypt following a dispute over conditions for the delivery of aid.
The United Nations said the 20-truck convoy contained life-saving aid that would be received by the Palestinian Red Crescent, but the aid was only a fraction of the amount needed and it was unclear how much aid would be allowed to pass through in the coming days.
Rafah is the main route in and out of Gaza that is not controlled by Israel and the focus of efforts to provide aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.
U.N. officials say at least 100 trucks a day are needed in Gaza to meet urgent needs and that any aid delivery should be sustained and large-scale. Before the conflict broke out, several hundred trucks typically arrived in the enclave every day.
U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in an interview that there should be no gap in aid supplies and that discussions continued about how to screen and track supplies to satisfy Israel.
In response to a deadly Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7, Israel imposed a total blockade and launched airstrikes on Gaza. The Rafah border crossing has been out of service since shortly after, and bombings on the Gaza side damaged roads and buildings needed repairs.
Supplies are running out
The United Nations has warned that food supplies are running low in Gaza and fuel supplies needed to power emergency generators in hospitals have reached dangerously low levels.
Israel has said it will not allow aid shipments from its territory until Hamas releases the hostages it took during its attack, and that aid shipments can go through Egypt as long as they do not end up in Hamas hands.
International donors flew aid to Al Arish, about 45 km (28 miles) west of Rafah on Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
During previous conflicts in Gaza, when aid was transported through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, no large-scale relief operations were carried out from Egypt.
The Israeli military said on Saturday that aid entering the Gaza Strip would not include fuel and would only go to the southern areas of the enclave, where Israel has urged civilians to gather.
Many Gazans have flocked to southern areas to avoid airstrikes in the north, although they also say nowhere in the area is safe.
“We have improved the Red Crescent’s logistical and operational capabilities by recruiting more volunteers and cars. We have rented camps in Khan Younis and Rafah,” said Mahmoud Abu Atta of the Palestinian Red Crescent as he entered the Rafah border crossing to receive help.
Western nations are pushing to evacuate foreign passport holders from Gaza, and the U.S. Embassy in Israel said any border opening on Saturday could allow foreigners to leave Gaza.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the border on Friday to arrange for the delivery of aid. He said a mechanism to verify the aid requested by Israel was still being drawn up and that the delivery of aid should not be tied to the release of hostages or evacuation of foreigners.
Source : www.investing.com