The Israeli government has made the decision to allow aid shipments to enter Gaza through Egypt, as long as the supplies do not go to Hamas. This announcement came after a visit from US President Joe Biden, who reportedly helped coordinate the assistance.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office released a statement on Wednesday night explaining the decision. Israel will not allow aid to come directly from their territory into Gaza, but they will permit humanitarian transfers from Egypt, specifically for food, water, and medicine for the civilian population in the southern Gaza Strip. Netanyahu emphasized that any supplies that reach Hamas will be prevented, at the request of President Biden.
President Biden traveled to Tel Aviv on Wednesday to show support for Israel amid the ongoing fighting with Palestinian militants in Gaza. The recent violence began after a deadly Hamas terrorist attack earlier in the month, which Biden likened to “fifteen 9/11s” for a nation the size of Israel.
During his visit, President Biden announced that 20 truckloads of aid will be coming from Egypt through the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, starting on Friday. The United Nations will assist in distributing the supplies, but Biden made it clear that the assistance would be halted if any goods ended up in the hands of Hamas. He mentioned the possibility of a second tranche of aid, but said that they would evaluate the situation before moving forward.
Egypt also made an announcement on Thursday that they would be reopening the Rafah crossing for the “sustainable” transfer of humanitarian assistance, according to presidential spokesman Ahmed Fahmy. Khalid Zayed, the head of the Red Crescent for North Sinai, revealed that 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid were either heading towards Rafah or already stationed there.
The dire humanitarian situation in Gaza has been a concern for the UN and international human rights groups. Israel had cut off the supply of electricity, water, and fuel, urging over 1 million Palestinians to evacuate to the southern part of Gaza. As a result, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled for safety amidst heavy Israeli airstrikes. The UN has warned of an unprecedented catastrophe in Gaza due to rapidly dwindling stocks of food, fuel, and medicine.
However, Israeli officials stated that the supplies would only be restored from their end if Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups release hostages taken during their raid into Israeli territory on October 7. The current hostilities have resulted in around 1,400 casualties in Israel and over 3,000 in Palestine, according to local officials.