HomeTop StoriesIs Israel fulfilling its promise to allow more aid into Gaza?

Is Israel fulfilling its promise to allow more aid into Gaza?

Israel says it is building a new land border to northern Gaza, where famine is most acute, after previously pledging to open the Erez crossing. The new border crossing could handle up to 50 aid trucks a day and the first trucks have already crossed, Israeli officials say.

Israel has also said it will allow the use of the deep-water port of Ashdod, a short distance to the north, and allow more aid to enter from Jordan through the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza.

On Wednesday, April 10, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke of gradually increasing aid deliveries to Gaza to the pre-war level of 500 trucks per day.

The number of trucks entering Gaza rose and then fell over the course of the week, with only 147 trucks entering Gaza on Thursday.

It follows the killing of seven aid workers by the Israeli army on April 1, prompting the US to tell Israel to avoid civilian harm and humanitarian suffering if it wants to maintain American support.

Israel laid siege to Gaza after Hamas attacked nearby Israeli communities, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 people to Gaza as hostages. It has hit Gaza with an air and ground campaign that has killed more than 33,000 people, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-led health authority.

Israeli authorities have since allowed some aid, but the UN and aid agencies say some children have died from malnutrition.

On Wednesday, USAID Administrator Samantha Power said parts of Gaza were already under famine.

How many trucks are going in now?

The number of trucks carrying food and other aid entering Gaza has increased, but has since fallen again.

On April 8, Israeli authorities said 419 aid trucks arrived, including 330 trucks carrying food – more than double the average of 140 food trucks per day in March.

However, UN officials told the BBC that the figure was actually 223 on April 8, less than half the minimum daily figure the BBC says is needed to defuse the crisis.

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UN officials have told the BBC that the discrepancy is due to the fact that Israeli screening requirements mean trucks are often only half full. After border checks, goods are transferred to a new set of vetted trucks to travel onwards to Gaza, which are filled closer to capacity.

Cogat, the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the occupied territories, said on Friday that only 147 trucks of aid entered Gaza, while 208, including only 112 with food, were distributed in Gaza.

Among them were an undisclosed number of food trucks entering northern Gaza through the new border crossing, which Israeli media reported was located near the Zikim Kibbutz, west of the Erez crossing.

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[BBC]

The Israeli military said the trucks were accompanied by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers.

On Friday, Philip Lazzarini, head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, said the increase in aid was “not yet tangible, sustainable or continuous”.

Blame the game for violence and hunger

Humanitarian organizations, Israeli allies and other countries have accused Israel of not doing enough to ensure food gets to those who need it. Some have accused Israel of using famine as a weapon of war.

All aid to Gaza is subject to strict Israeli security checks, aimed at preventing anything that could be used by Hamas from entering the country. But aid agencies say these are complex, arbitrary and causing major delays.

Israel has denied blocking the access of aid to Gaza and accused aid agencies of failing to distribute them. On Thursday, Cogat said the contents of hundreds of aid trucks were waiting to be picked up in Gaza, saying: “UN, do your job. The bottlenecks are not on the Israeli side.”

As conditions have deteriorated, relief efforts in Gaza have also been accompanied by deadly violence.

In one incident, the Israeli army killed seven aid workers working for World Central Kitchen (WCK), a charity Israel partnered with to distribute aid arriving by boat from Cyprus. Israel apologized and took action against the unit involved.

There are regular reports of shootings targeting Palestinians gathering to receive the little aid that has arrived in northern Gaza. The Hamas-led Health Ministry in Gaza and local Palestinians have accused Israeli forces of shooting at desperate people. In the bloodiest incident, more than a hundred people were killed on February 29 when a convoy arrived at al-Rashid Street in Gaza City.

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Israel has denied involvement in the deaths, saying Palestinians have died crushed, run over by trucks and shot by armed Palestinians, and that when Israeli forces have opened fire it has been on people they have deemed “suspects” .

Israel has banned UNRWA from providing aid to northern Gaza over allegations that some UNRWA staff participated in the October 7 Hamas attack. Cogat said Israel would work with organizations “not involved in terror.”

The Crisis Group think tank has described Israel’s approach to aid distribution as a “fiasco” and accused the country of “failing to coordinate military and humanitarian action.” It also said Israel was trying to bypass the international aid system and instead use aid convoys as a way to try to build a network of players to govern Gaza after the war.

“It targets aid to extended families who agree to embrace the agenda, while targeting those who refuse,” the think tank said.

The UN’s top human rights official, Volker Türk, recently said in a BBC interview that Israel bore significant blame, and that there was a “plausible” case that Israel used famine as a weapon of war in Gaza.

Mr Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that if intent were proven, it would amount to a war crime.

Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat dismissed Mr Türk’s warnings as “total nonsense – a totally irresponsible statement”.

What is the Port of Ashdod and how can it help?

The Port of Ashdod, 20 miles (32 km) north of Gaza, is one of Israel’s three main cargo ports and can handle more than 1.5 million containers per year.

However, there are no reports that any aid shipments for Gaza have been received in Ashdod. On Wednesday, Israel’s Channel 12 reported that no preparations had been made to open Ashdod to humanitarian shipments.

With not enough aid entering Gaza by land, countries have tried alternative routes through airspace and sea, but these too face problems.

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Of the two plans to bring food and other aid into Gaza by sea, only one went into effect and has now been halted after the Israeli army attacked WCK, the aid organization that was unloading and distributing the aid from a jetty who built it. rubble.

A graph showing the auxiliary capacity of distribution methods such as truck, plane and ship.A graph showing the auxiliary capacity of distribution methods such as truck, plane and ship.

[BBC]

Last month, the first ship to reach Gaza under the plan arrived from Cyprus – the closest EU country to Gaza – carrying around 200 tonnes of food supplied by WCK.

At the end of March, WCK boss José Andrés said there were 67 WCK kitchens operating in Gaza, feeding 350,000 people a day.

Meanwhile, a separate U.S. military plan is in the works, with a U.S. Navy ship on its way with materials to build a floating dock and pier so supplies can land on much larger cargo ships.

According to the US Department of Defense, this means that two million meals a day could enter Gaza. But it is not expected to be ready for another few months.

Resorting to air drops

Jordanian air drop, April 9Jordanian air drop, April 9

[Reuters]

The US, Jordan, Egypt, France, the Netherlands and Belgium are among the countries that have dropped aid to Gaza, but aid groups say the technique is a last resort that cannot meet the need on its own.

At least 20 Palestinians are reported to have died during air drops – five when an aid package parachute failed to open and the box fell onto waiting people below, and the others when aid packages fell into the sea and desperate people drowned as they tried. to pick them up.

Air forces such as the British RAF normally drop aid at an altitude of just 400 feet (120 metres), but the Israelis have ruled they cannot do so lower than 2,000 feet (610 metres). This means that it takes a long time for the parachutes to be blown off course by the wind and that is why some air drops have landed in the sea in recent weeks.

A C-130 transport plane can carry 21 tons of aid – about the same amount as a single truck can carry. There is also no way to organize distribution on site.

The first U.S. response with Jordan on March 3 contained enough food for more than 38,000 meals. On April 11, US Central Command (Centcom) said the US had dropped a total of 855 tons of humanitarian aid.

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