Egypt has agreed to allow the entry of humanitarian aid trucks into the besieged Gaza Strip. This decision comes amidst intensifying international outcry over Israel’s military offensive, which followed coordinated attacks by Hamas almost two weeks ago.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has prompted widespread protests across the Middle East and raised concerns that the conflict could escalate into a broader regional crisis, CNN reported.
Joe Biden, President, United States, en route back from his visit to Israel, announced that his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, had agreed to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza for humanitarian assistance. The Rafah crossing is the only entry point not controlled by Israel.
Approximately 20 trucks from an aid convoy that had been waiting at the closed border gate will be granted access into Gaza. However, the roads near the crossing, marked by Israeli airstrikes’ craters, require repair before the trucks can proceed. These repairs are expected to be carried out over eight hours on Thursday, paving the way for the initial aid deliveries on Friday.
Farhan Haq, UN Deputy Spokesperson, stated, “We’re negotiating with the parties to make sure that we can get humanitarian goods going in, and right now, we’re in the process of those negotiations. We’re trying to get them in as soon as we can.”
Nevertheless, the impact of this initial aid delivery on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza remains uncertain. The World Health Organization has described the situation as spiraling out of control, affecting hundreds of thousands. WHO Regional Representative Richard Brennan stressed that there are complexities in launching this aid operation and that it’s a long-term endeavor, not a quick fix. The goal is to distribute up to 100 truckloads of aid daily.
Notably, President Biden clarified that the Rafah crossing will be open solely for humanitarian purposes, not for evacuations, leaving the fate of the 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza, including foreign nationals and dual citizens, uncertain.
Calls for aid have grown more desperate in recent days as Palestinians in Gaza have fled south, following Israeli warnings to evacuate the northern regions. Yet, the densely populated strip offers little safety. Constant airstrikes have left hospitals in a state of crisis, struggling with dwindling medical supplies and fuel shortages.
Also, UN agencies have issued warnings that Gaza’s food stores are just days away from being depleted, and the strip’s last seawater desalination plant has been shut down, heightening the risk of further fatalities, dehydration, and waterborne diseases.
The suffering in Gaza has been worsened by Israel’s near-complete blockade, which has isolated the enclave from the rest of the world for almost 17 years. This isolation has now intensified, with Israel cutting off supplies to Gaza following the recent attack by Hamas, during which an estimated 1,400 people were killed.
The situation remains tense, and the risk of the conflict expanding into other fronts, particularly in Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Hezbollah militia is active, is causing apprehension.
Amid these escalating tensions, China has expressed its readiness to work with Egypt to bring stability to the region.
The situation in the Middle East remains highly volatile, with diplomatic efforts ongoing to de-escalate the conflict and address the pressing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.