(CTN News) – Saturday saw the arrival of the first humanitarian supply convoy to the beleaguered Gaza Strip since the outbreak of conflict. The convoy had been stuck in Egypt due to disagreements over the terms under which the help would be delivered.
There were 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid that the United Nations claimed would be delivered to the Palestinian Red Crescent, but it was just a small fraction of what was needed and it was uncertain how much more material would be permitted to pass in the days to come.
Efforts to bring aid to Gaza’s 2.3 million citizens are concentrated at the Rafah crossing, the only entry and exit point not under Israeli control.
The United Nations estimates that 100 trucks per day are needed to supply Gaza’s most pressing needs, and that any aid effort should be ongoing and massive in scope. Several hundred vehicles were regularly entering the enclave each day prior to the commencement of violence.
In an interview, Martin Griffiths, the head of the United Nations’ humanitarian affairs department, said that assistance delivery should not be interrupted, and that negotiations were ongoing to ensure that Israel was satisfied with the methods used to verify and track aid shipments.
After a deadly incident on Israeli soil on October 7, Hamas was met with a total blockade and air strikes from Israel. Since then, the Rafah crossing has been closed due to repairs needed on the Gaza side after being destroyed by bombing.
Israel has stated that until Hamas releases the captives it has taken during the attack, no aid will be allowed to enter from Israeli borders, but aid can enter through Egypt so long as it does not wind up in the hands of Hamas.
Al Arish, located on the Sinai Peninsula around 45 kilometres (28 miles) west of Rafah, has been receiving airdrops of aid from international donors.
Previous confrontations in Gaza saw aid enter through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom border, therefore Egypt was unable to coordinate a large-scale relief effort.
On Saturday, the Israeli military announced that aid shipments into Gaza would not include gasoline and would be restricted to the southern part of the territory, where Israeli officials had urged residents to concentrate.
Many Gazans have crowded into the south to escape the northern areas targeted by airstrikes, but locals insist that there is no safe place in the enclave.
We’ve improved the Red Crescent’s ability to function by recruiting more volunteers and purchasing more vehicles. The Palestinian Red Crescent’s Mahmoud Abu Atta remarked, “We have rented storages in Khan Younis and Rafah” as he crossed into Egypt through the Rafah Border Crossing.
The United States Embassy in Israel said on Saturday that foreigners with valid passports may be able to leave Gaza if the border is opened on Saturday.
Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, went to the border on Friday to try to facilitate the entry of the help, explaining that a method for inspecting the material required by Israel was still being worked out and that the provision of relief should not be contingent on the release of hostages or the evacuation of foreigners.