Only the next few hours, or days, will determine whether the entry of a humanitarian aid convoy into Gaza this Saturday was just a mirage or the beginning of hope. The Rafah border crossing remained open for a barely noticeable amount of time, just enough for twenty trucks – one of them presumably with the international logo of a Basque company printed on the trailer – to finish their wait of several days on the Egyptian side, to process the paperwork. administrative and access the tiny enclave where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing the war in the north are crowded. Although every contribution is vital at this “critical” moment for the survival of the refugees, the UN admitted that the “saving supplies” transferred aboard this convoy that would not occupy the parking lot of a gas station are “insufficient” to avoid the “catastrophe.” » derived from the lack of water, food and medicine.
“The people of Gaza need a commitment for much longer, a continuous delivery of aid” on a large scale, denounced the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, in his speech at the Cairo summit before Arab, Western and Arab leaders. Africans. The trucks “make a life or death difference,” Guterres added, for the citizens of the Strip. In total, there are 2.4 million people whose water, food, electricity and fuel supplies were cut off by Tel Aviv after Hamas unleashed carnage on the Israeli side, with 1,400 civilians and soldiers massacred in the most brutal ways imaginable. .
“This first convoy must not be the last,” declared United Nations emergency coordinator Martin Griffiths at the foot of Rafah. There, the entry of vehicles marked with the Red Crescent was greeted with the epic of the needy, Palestinians waving flags and cheering the drivers who delivered the merchandise to UN agencies for distribution.
In total, workers unloaded 150 tons of canned food and long-expired groceries, as well as medicines, mattresses and blankets. The Red Cross reported that water stayed in Egypt, despite being a pressing need in an enclave where there is a population that already drinks from puddles and stagnant ponds. However, other sources, including Israeli inspectors who inspected the cargo, stated that among the supplies were boxes with bottled water. The supplies will be distributed mainly to hospitals, located on the brink of collapse.
What was also greatly missed is fuel. Not a drop crossed the Rafah divide. The aid thus complied with the guidelines of Israel, which strictly prohibited its introduction in the event that it could end up requisitioned by Hamas and diverted to its facilities or used to refuel its military and artillery fleet. One of the purposes of the siege of the Strip is to suffocate the lives of the militants who remain sheltered in the Gaza tunnels by leaving them without food or energy and forcing them to surface or flee. The spokesman for the Defense Forces, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, explained this Saturday that starting today, Sunday, aviation and artillery attacks against northern Gaza will intensify because “we have to enter the next phase of the war (land operation) in the best conditions” and “minimize the danger.”
After the slight illusion generated by the first twenty trucks, the flow of humanitarian aid continues at the expense of a fragile thread. Diplomacy has needed several days to open the border with Egypt and clear the passage to Gaza for a minimum part of the 175 heavy vehicles waiting on the other side loaded with food. Different media consider that the future of supply, by no means guaranteed at this time, depends on factors as exogenous and palpable as the continuation of the bombings, the beginning of the land invasion, the efforts aimed at facilitating the departure of foreign citizens through Rafah. and the political attitudes of the governments of Israel and Egypt.
In addition to all this, it remains to be decided how the controversial control of trucks arriving in Gaza will continue, an aspect that has greatly slowed down the first delivery. The UN said the first trailers were not inspected for weapons or other contraband aimed at Hamas fighters. According to information published in ‘The New York Times’, an “expedited process” was established so that drivers only had to present the cargo manifest to those sent to the border by the United Nations and the governments of Egypt and Israel.
However, an Israeli spokesman denied that no controls had been established. “All equipment was checked before entering Gaza” and was found to “only include water, food and medical equipment.” Various experts consider that the usual thing in these operations is to establish inspections before a single transport moves, and more so in this case, since Tel Aviv fears that, if there is a sustained transit, the Islamist militia will take the opportunity to clandestinely introduce weapons or other resources destined to strengthen themselves in the north. “We emphasize that Israel is capable of ensuring that nothing enters or leaves except as mentioned above,” the spokesperson added.
Any future openings of the crossing must also take into account what to do with Palestinian Americans and citizens with dual nationality who want to leave Gaza. According to ‘The Times of Israel’, a crowd of people with American, Canadian, German and British passports watched as the Rafah gate closed again after the trucks left, frustrating their fifth attempt in a week to cross into Egypt.
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