Image Source: TheNewYorkTimes
After over two weeks of blocking humanitarian aid, Israel has finally allowed the first convoy of trucks carrying supplies into Gaza following pressure from US President Joe Biden’s visit. However, Palestinians say the limited quantities allowed are a mere “drop in the ocean” that fails to address the immense suffering.
The 20 aid trucks passing through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt represent the first outside assistance permitted into the besieged Gaza Strip since the latest devastating 11-day conflict between Israel and Hamas. But Palestinian officials and residents say much more is urgently needed to deal with the catastrophic destruction.
On Saturday, Israel allowed 20 trucks with humanitarian supplies to cross from Egypt into Gaza for the first time since its bombardment campaign demolished thousands of homes and key infrastructure. But Palestinians blasted the limited aid delivery, saying it falls extremely short of meeting critical needs after weeks of shortages that have worsened living conditions. Officials stressed Gaza requires round-the-clock access for fuel, water, medical care and other basics to recover.
Aid Allowed After Biden Visit and International Pressure
The modest aid shipment was permitted only after US President Biden visited Israel and pressed for humanitarian access earlier this week. Biden said Washington had brokered an agreement with Israel to open the Rafah crossing temporarily.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had also traveled to the Egypt-Gaza border on Friday seeking to deliver direly needed assistance. But so far, only 20 aid trucks have been cleared to enter.
Palestinians Decry Woefully Inadequate Aid Quantities
Palestinian officials criticized the small aid quantity, saying it will barely scratch the surface of overwhelming needs. They argued the international community is putting on a “PR stunt” rather than taking real action to relieve suffering.
The Hamas media office confirmed the 20 trucks contain limited medicine, medical supplies and canned food. But no fuel has been allowed, despite Gaza hospitals and critical infrastructure lacking power.
5 Hospitals Remain Closed, 2 Have Minimal Fuel
With Gaza’s sole power plant knocked out by Israeli missiles, hospitals are running out of fuel to operate. Currently 5 hospitals remain completely closed, while 2 more have minimal fuel left. Even facilities still open have been forced to halt critical departments and treatments.
The aid delivery was dismissed by Palestinians as far too little given the vast scale of needs. Over 1 million displaced residents currently lack basics like power, water and housing.
Facts on Vast Scale of Needs in Gaza
To put the inadequacy of 20 aid trucks in context:
- Gaza has a population of 2 million whose homes and infrastructure have been decimated.
- Critical power, water and sanitation systems have been destroyed by Israeli strikes.
- 58,000 Palestinians remain displaced with nowhere to live.
- Key sewage and desalination plants are paralyzed without electricity.
- Over 50,000 homes have suffered extensive damage.
Palestinians Demand Safe Access for Fuel, Water, Medical Care
Palestinian officials stated that the top priority must be establishing immediate safe corridors to bring in fuel, water, medical care and other essentials cut off during the conflict.
They urged constant humanitarian access to meet civilian needs, assist the wounded, and enable the health system to provide life-saving treatment unavailable currently in Gaza.
Israel Had Blocked Aid During Its Bombing Campaign
During 11 days of intense bombardment, Israel had blocked any humanitarian assistance from entering Gaza as its missiles razed residential towers and leveled key infrastructure. Many accused Israel of punishing civilians to turn sentiment against Hamas.
Now Palestinians fear Israel will tout letting in a token aid shipment as meeting its obligations, while continuing to impose its blockade and resist broader reconstruction. Officials reiterated that much more substantial aid is urgently required.
Key Details Recapping Situation
In summary, Israel finally permitted a small convoy of 20 aid trucks to enter Gaza on Saturday, following pressure from President Biden’s visit. However, Palestinians protested the limited quantities allowed in so far are nowhere near sufficient to relieve the humanitarian crisis among 2 million residents lacking basics.
Officials stated Gaza requires round the clock access for fuel, water, medical care and other fundamental needs before real recovery can begin from the devastating bombing campaign.
Read More of Our In-Depth Coverage on the Crisis in Gaza
For further coverage on the dire situation in Gaza including damage estimates, unexploded ordnance risks, and international response, see our special series: Crisis in Gaza — How to Help and Latest Aid Updates.
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