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Aid deliveries from Egypt resume going into Gaza

On Friday, Egypt and the United States announced that Cairo had agreed to temporarily allow food, basic supplies and fuel to move from its territory into Gaza through Kerem Shalom.
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 02:56 IST
Last Updated : 27 May 2024, 02:56 IST

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Aid trucks from Egypt entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday under a new U.S.-brokered agreement to reopen a vital conduit for humanitarian relief, the Israeli military and the Egyptian Red Crescent said.

Egypt had blocked aid from entering the enclave via its territory since Israel's seizure of the Rafah crossing -- which provides access to southern Gaza -- in early May. The two sides have traded blame over that crossing's closure, even as aid has piled up on the Egyptian side.

After US pressure, Egypt announced Friday that it had agreed to divert trucks through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, which is roughly 2 miles from the Rafah crossing, as a temporary measure.

Some 126 trucks from Egypt containing food, fuel and other necessities entered the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom on Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement. The trucks were inspected by Israeli officials, said Ahmad Ezzat, an Egyptian Red Crescent official.

The quantity of food, water and medicines reaching people in Gaza has plummeted since the war began nearly eight months ago. As a result, the United Nations and aid groups have been warning of widespread hunger in the enclave and urging Israel to open more routes for aid to enter. But in recent weeks, aid shipments into Gaza through the two main land conduits have been interrupted.

One of those crossings is Kerem Shalom, which sits at the intersection of Gaza, Israel and Egypt. Israel temporarily closed Kerem Shalom a few weeks ago after a Hamas rocket attack there killed four of its soldiers. Since then Israel has allowed some aid into Gaza through Kerem Shalom, but its distribution has been a point of contention. Israel says that aid agencies must distribute the aid. But the agencies say that the Israeli military's activity in southern Gaza has made their job nearly impossible.

The other major gateway for aid is between Gaza and Egypt, at Rafah. Israeli forces captured the crossing as part of their initial advance toward the city overnight on May 6. Since then, Israeli, Egyptian and Palestinian officials have been unable to strike a deal to resume aid shipments there.

Israel has been under international pressure to find a way to reopen Rafah to prevent an even greater humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. On Friday, the World Court ordered Israel to "open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision" of aid. Israel pledged to do so, but said it would also "prevent terrorist organizations from controlling the crossing."

When the Rafah crossing closed, the Egyptian government also initially held out on sending aid trucks toward Kerem Shalom, in what US and Israeli officials called an attempt to pressure Israel to back down from its operation in Rafah.

On Friday, Egypt and the United States announced that Cairo had agreed to temporarily allow food, basic supplies and fuel to move from its territory into Gaza through Kerem Shalom. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the Egyptian president, emphasized that the measure was a stopgap until "a new legal mechanism" could be found on the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing.

It remains unclear when the Rafah crossing will reopen for aid. US officials are expected to head to Cairo this week to "support efforts to reopen the Rafah crossing," according to the White House.

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Published 27 May 2024, 02:56 IST

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