Egypt Repairing Roads at Gaza Crossing Ahead of Aid Delivery


More than 100 trucks were waiting close to the crossing on the Egyptian side on Thursday, though it was not expected that aid would enter before Friday, Egyptian security sources said.

RAFAH/GAZA – Machinery to repair roads has been sent through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt into the Gaza Strip in preparation for the delivery of some of the aid to people besieged in the enclave, two security sources said on Thursday.

Rafah is the only crossing not controlled by Israel. But it has been out of operation since the first days of the latest round of heightened violence between Israel and Hamas.

The war between the two sides began after Hamas fighters launched an attack in southern Israel on Oct 7. More than 1,400 people were killed.

Israel retaliated with aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas. Israel said it wants to destroy the group.

The Israeli military action has killed over 3,500 people in Gaza, and the blockaded enclave is currently under tighter restrictions.

The United States and Egypt have been pushing for a deal with Israel to get aid delivered to Gaza.

The White House said on Wednesday it had been agreed for up to 20 trucks to pass through, with hopes for more trucks later.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents depended on aid before the spike in violence earlier this month.

About 100 trucks daily were providing humanitarian relief to the enclave, according to the United Nations.

More than 100 trucks were waiting close to the crossing on the Egyptian side on Thursday, though it was not expected that aid would enter before Friday, Egyptian security sources said.

More aid is being held in the Egyptian city of Al Arish, about 45km from Rafah.

Western governments have been negotiating for the evacuation of foreign passport holders from Gaza, something Egyptian officials have conditioned on aid getting in. Details of potential evacuations are unclear.

On Wednesday, after talks with US President Joe Biden, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel would not block aid for civilians entering Gaza from Egypt, as long as those supplies do not reach Hamas.

It said it would continue a blockade of humanitarian aid from Israel into Gaza until hostages held by Hamas since Oct. 7 were released.

Israel and Egypt have upheld a blockade of Gaza since Hamas took control of the territory in 2007, tightly controlling the movement of goods and people.

The situation in Gaza remains volatile in the aftermath of an explosion at Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital late on Tuesday.

Palestinian officials said 471 people were killed in the blast that they blame on Israel.

Israel and the US said the cause was a failed rocket launch by anti-Israeli Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in Gaza, which denied responsibility.

Amid outrage over the hospital explosion, demonstrations erupted in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and elsewhere.

Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank during protests, Palestinian officials said, while Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannon at protesters throwing projectiles near the US embassy, TV footage showed.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Wednesday that the organisation sought to bring aid deliveries to Gaza back to 100 trucks a day.

The accounts of destruction at the hospital were horrific even by the standards of the past 12 days, which have confronted the world with relentless images, first of Israelis murdered by Hamas gunmen in their homes and then of Palestinian families buried under rubble from Israel’s retaliatory strikes.

“We don’t know what it was, but we found out what it could do, after it targeted children, who were cut into pieces,” said Mohammad Al-Naqa, a doctor at the hospital who said 3,000 people were sheltering there when it was hit.

Israel last week ordered more than one million civilians in northern Gaza to evacuate to avoid being hit in attacks on Hamas strongholds there, and displaced Palestinians face a worsening humanitarian crisis.

World leaders from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the Gaza hospital blast in statements that nonetheless avoided addressing who was to blame.

The blast unleashed anger across the Middle East.

State-sponsored marches were held across Iran, backer of Hamas and Israel’s sworn foe, with demonstrators carrying banners that read “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

There were new clashes on Israel’s border with Lebanon, part of the deadliest violence between the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement and Israel since the last all-out war in 2006. Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed. – Agencies


Cover photo: Palestinians gather around bodies of  those killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in central Gaza after they were transported to Al-Shifa Hospital on Tuesday. – AFP


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