Delivery Of Gaza Aid Hindered As Egypt Alleges Lack Of Israeli Cooperation
Delivery of Gaza aid hindered as Egypt alleges lack of Israeli cooperation, also claiming that evacuating foreign passport holders through the sole entry point that isn't entirely under Israeli control has become difficult. This situation has resulted in hundreds of tons of supplies being stranded.
Cairo has clarified that the Rafah crossing, which could serve as a critical gateway for much-needed provisions to the Palestinian enclave under Israeli siege, has not been officially closed. However, it has become non-functional due to Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza side.
With the escalation of Israel's bombardment and tightening siege on Gaza, the 2.3 million residents of the territory now find themselves in a dire situation, grappling with a severe lack of power. This situation has pushed health and water services to the edge of collapse, with dwindling fuel supplies for hospital generators.
Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, emphasized the pressing necessity to relieve the suffering of Gaza's Palestinian civilians. He also noted that discussions with Israel had not yielded positive results.
Until now the Israeli government has not taken a position on opening the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side to allow the entrance of assistance and exit of citizens of third countries.- Egypt's Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry
U.S. officials had initially anticipated that Rafah might become operational briefly late on Monday, as stated by White House spokesperson John Kirby. However, prior expectations of opening the crossing had been disappointed. The persistent conflict has posed significant challenges to delivering aid through Rafah, as emphasized by U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric during a press briefing.
There will need to be a mechanism given that it implicates a lot of parties, some of which are not on speaking terms, to put it mildly. We're working on that with key partners.- Stephane Dujarric
On Monday, Hamas-affiliated radio station Aqsa reported that Israeli shelling had once again targeted the Rafah crossing area. Meanwhile, the Egyptian side of the border appeared largely deserted in the afternoon, as aid supplies were being stockpiled in the nearby city of Al Arish.
The people of Gaza have endured a prolonged siege since Israel initiated its most intense bombardment and blockade, responding to a significant cross-border assault by Islamist Hamas militants on October 7. This has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians within Gaza. Some have attempted to head south towards the Rafah crossing with their cars and suitcases, while others, unable to find refuge, have reluctantly returned north.
"On our way to the crossing they shelled Rafah Street and we started screaming," said one resident near the crossing, Hadeel Abu Dahoud. "Nowhere is safe in Gaza."
Much like other nations, Egypt has voiced its opposition to a mass exodus of Gaza residents, reflecting the deep-seated concerns within the Arab world that the ongoing conflict could trigger a new wave of permanent displacement for Palestinians who have long sought to establish their own state.
In response to the crisis, Egypt has called for a summit, as reported by Egyptian news outlet Al Qahera News. This summit is expected to take place in the Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh on Saturday. Additionally, on Monday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the escalating situation in Gaza, according to Sisi's office.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry emphasized Egypt's objective to reestablish regular access through the Rafah crossing, including for Palestinians in need of medical treatment or regular travel.
Earlier on Monday, Egyptian security sources had suggested the possibility of a temporary ceasefire in southern Gaza to facilitate aid delivery and evacuations at Rafah. However, Egyptian state TV later quoted a high-level source stating that no such truce had been agreed upon.
Both Hamas and Israel confirmed that an agreement to open the crossing had not been reached. In the nearby city of Al Arish, hundreds of tons of aid from various NGOs and several countries awaited the necessary conditions to enable their entry into Gaza.
"We are waiting for the green light for the aid to enter and dozens of volunteers are ready at any time," a Red Crescent official in northern Sinai said.
In a separate development, a video depicted fuel trucks bearing U.N. flags seemingly departing Gaza and heading towards Egypt, passing through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.
The U.N. humanitarian agency, OCHA, stressed the urgent necessity of permitting life-saving aid to flow through the Rafah crossing without unnecessary delays. They also announced that their chief, Martin Griffiths, would travel to Cairo on Tuesday for this purpose.
The movement of goods and people through Rafah has been subject to strict control due to the blockade on Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt since Hamas assumed control of the territory in 2007. Only registered travelers are allowed to cross.