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Anarchy hinders Gaza aid efforts despite daily combat pause

Days after the pause took hold, more than 1,000 truckloads of supplies remained stranded in Gaza near the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel, with thousands of tons of food, medicine and other goods mere miles from Palestinians who need them, aid groups and Israeli officials said.
Last Updated : 20 June 2024, 02:59 IST

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The extreme anarchy that has gripped the Gaza Strip is making it too dangerous and difficult to distribute desperately needed aid in the south, relief groups and others said, despite a daily pause in fighting that Israel is observing along a key road there.

Days after the pause took hold, more than 1,000 truckloads of supplies remained stranded in Gaza near the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel, with thousands of tons of food, medicine and other goods mere miles from Palestinians who need them, aid groups and Israeli officials said.

The threat of looting and attacks by armed gangs have forced relief groups to stop delivering assistance in southern Gaza. Trucks using supply routes have been riddled with bullet holes. Businesspeople sending commercial goods into the territory and aid agencies have decided they cannot risk employees' lives on the drive.

As a result, the Israeli military's decision to pause fighting for hours each day along the aid route has so far produced scant humanitarian benefit.

The grim situation is part of the domino effect of the Israeli campaign in Gaza, which has toppled much of the Hamas government without any civilian administration to take its place.

In much of Gaza, there are no police officers to prevent chaos, few municipal workers to clean up heaping mounds of rubble and trash, and only the bare minimum of public services. Organized crime groups have filled the vacuum, and their affiliations are still unclear.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesperson, said Wednesday that Israel's leaders needed to advance an alternative to Hamas in Gaza to distribute food and handle public services, or else risk seeing the group that led the October 7 assault on Israel return to power.

"The idea that it is possible to destroy Hamas, to make Hamas vanish - that is throwing sand in the eyes of the public", Hagari said. "If we do not bring something else to Gaza, at the end of the day, we will get Hamas."

His remarks came amid growing and unusually public friction between the Israeli military and the country's political leadership. More than eight months into the war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to articulate a clear plan for stabilizing Gaza or administering it after the war, although he has ruled out both the internationally backed Palestinian Authority taking charge and Israeli settlements there.

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Published 20 June 2024, 02:59 IST

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