- Aid poured into the Sinai as the conflict intensified
- The 20-truck convoy included medicine, food but no fuel
- Before the war, hundreds of trucks entered Gaza every day
- UN calls situation ‘catastrophic’ in Gaza
GAZA/CAIRO, Oct 21 (Reuters) – The first humanitarian aid convoy sent to the besieged Gaza Strip since the outbreak of war arrived via the Rafah border crossing on Saturday, leaving it stranded in Egypt after fighting over the terms of the relief delivery.
The United Nations said the 20-truck convoy contained life-saving supplies being received by the Palestinian Red Cross, but the aid was only a fraction of what was needed and it was unclear how much aid would be allowed in the coming days.
Rafah is the main route into and out of the Gaza Strip, which is not controlled by Israel, and is the focus of relief efforts for Gaza’s 2.3 million people.
UN officials say at least 100 trucks a day are needed in Gaza to meet emergency needs, and any aid deliveries must be consistent and scaled. Before the conflict erupted, an average of around 450 aid trucks were arriving daily.
“The humanitarian situation in Gaza – already precarious – has reached catastrophic levels,” UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement.
“I hope this distribution will be the beginning of a sustained effort to provide essential commodities including food, water, medicine and fuel,” he said.
Israel imposed a total blockade and airstrikes on Gaza in response to a deadly attack on Israeli soil by Hamas on October 7. The Rafah Crossing became defunct shortly thereafter, and roads and buildings were damaged by bombing on the Gaza side. Needs repair.
Supplies are running out
The UN has warned that food is running out in Gaza and fuel supplies needed to run hospital back-up generators have reached dangerously low levels.
Israel has said it will not allow any aid to enter its territory until Hamas releases hostages held during its offensive, and that aid may come through Egypt as long as it does not end up in Hamas’ hands.
International donors have flown aid to Al Arish, 45 km (28 mi) west of Rafah in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
During previous conflicts in Gaza, when aid went through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, there were no large-scale relief efforts from Egypt.
Israel said the aid entering Gaza on Saturday did not include fuel and would only go to the southern areas, where Israel has urged civilians to congregate.
Many of Gaza’s residents have concentrated in southern areas to avoid airstrikes in the north, although they say nowhere in the territory is safe.
“We have improved the logistics and operational capabilities of the Red Cross by adding more volunteers and cars. We have rented warehouses in Khan Younis and Rafah,” said Mahmoud Abu Atta of the Palestinian Red Cross. Help.
Western countries have been pushing for the expulsion of foreign passport holders from Gaza and the US Embassy in Israel said on Saturday that any border opening would allow foreigners to leave the territory.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that a mechanism for reviewing aid requests by Israel to go to the border was still being prepared, and that the relief should not be accompanied by the release of the hostages. or expulsion of foreigners.
Reporting by Nidal Mughrabi, Aidan Lewis, Yusri Mohamed and Ahmed Mohamed Hassan Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Ross Russell
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