May 22, 2024

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Hamas publishes a video of two other hostages

Hamas publishes a video of two other hostages

Under intense international scrutiny, Israel made efforts this month to speed up the flow of aid to Gaza, but one expert said it was too early to say whether the increase in aid could be sustained long enough to avoid famine.

Israel's efforts – which include opening new routes for aid – were previously recognized last week Biden administration and international aid officials. It appears that more aid trucks are arriving in Gaza, especially the north.

Arif Hussein, chief economist at the United Nations World Food Programme, said the increase in aid levels was a good sign, but it was too early to say that the impending famine, which experts had been warning about for weeks, no longer posed a risk. .

“If we see this progress continue not for weeks, but for months, that will help,” Mr. Hussein said, adding that the main need is more food, water and medicine.

He added: “This cannot happen for just a day or a week, but must happen every day for the foreseeable future.” “If we can do that, we can relieve the pain, and we can avoid famine.”

These new moves come at a time when Israel faces increasing international pressure to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Aid groups have long complained that too little aid enters the enclave, blaming harsh war conditions, strict inspections and restrictions on the number of crossing points. Israel said the restrictions were necessary to ensure supplies did not fall into the hands of Hamas.

Israel announced it would open more aid routes after its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke with President Biden by phone in early April, following an Israeli airstrike that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen, a disaster relief organization. Aid has since reached Gaza via new routes, including a partially functioning border crossing into northern Gaza and the port of Ashdod, about 20 miles north of the Strip.

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Shani Sasson, spokeswoman for the Office for the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli agency that oversees policy in the Palestinian territories and liaises with international organizations, said infrastructure work was underway to make the northern crossing permanent and open another crossing nearby.

About 100 trucks a day now reach the northern half of the Strip via two main crossing points in the south, according to Israeli and American officials, compared to a total of 350 trucks during almost the entire month of March.

Mr. Hussein said that WFP flour shipments had begun arriving via Ashdod, increasing the volume and efficiency of flour delivery to northern Gaza, in particular.

Four bakeries in Gaza City reopened this month in what the Israeli army described as an indication of improving conditions. The United Nations posted a video clip online showing bags of flour stacked in bakery warehouses and Palestinian children applauding for an aid truck.

In addition, the Jordanian military and government have recently increased the amount of aid arriving in ground convoys, which travel from Jordan through the West Bank and through part of Israel before reaching the border crossings south of Gaza. The Jordanian army carries out its own inspections. Government trucks are subject to inspection by Israel.

A sea route is also expected to open in the coming weeks, with the US announcing on Thursday that Army engineers have begun construction of a floating dock that could help aid workers deliver up to 2 million meals a day. The Israeli army said it would provide security and logistical support for the initiative.

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How much aid actually reaches Gaza is disputed, with Israel and the United Nations using different methods to track truck shipments. Israel says the number of trucks entering Gaza daily has doubled over the past few weeks, and an average of 400 trucks a day now enter the coastal enclave, according to Ms. Sasson.

But the United Nations reported a much smaller increase. In the two weeks ending on Thursday, the last day for which figures were available, an average of 189 trucks were reported to enter Gaza daily through the two main crossings in the south of the Strip, although the number fluctuated widely.

The trucks that Israel inspects and counts often enter Gaza half-full, according to UN officials, and it sometimes takes more than a day for trucks to arrive at warehouses in Gaza, affecting daily numbers.

The UN's chief humanitarian aid coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, noted this week that Israel had made efforts to increase the entry and distribution of aid, but called for “more specific and urgent steps” to address the urgent need.