December 7, 2023

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The United States says Egypt agrees to reopen Gaza borders to provide aid amid protests shaking the Middle East

The United States says Egypt agrees to reopen Gaza borders to provide aid amid protests shaking the Middle East
  • The latest developments:
  • Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli occupation forces’ bullets in the West Bank – Wafa
  • China and Russia express their concern about the possibility of the conflict expanding

TEL AVIV/GAZA (Reuters) – The United States said that Egypt has agreed to reopen its border crossing with the Gaza Strip to allow aid to reach the Palestinians, as the humanitarian crisis worsens for some 2.3 million people trapped in the Strip and who oppose the occupation. Israeli protests erupted across the Middle East.

The area remained volatile following an explosion at the National Arab Hospital in Gaza late Tuesday, which Palestinian officials said killed 471 people and attributed responsibility to what they said was an Israeli air strike.

Israel and the United States said the reason was a failed rocket launch by Islamic militants in Gaza, who denied responsibility. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Hayat said that the number of deaths as a result of the explosion did not exceed “dozens.”

Demonstrations broke out in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and elsewhere amid anger across the Middle East over the hospital explosion. Television footage showed that Lebanese security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at demonstrators who were throwing projectiles near the US Embassy in Beirut.

Palestinian officials said that Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank during protests, while the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said that Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man during a raid on the West Bank village of Budrus.

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US President Joe Biden discussed aid to Gaza with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi by phone late Wednesday, as he returned home from a visit to Israel that lasted less than eight hours.

Biden told reporters that Sisi agreed to open the Rafah crossing from Egypt to Gaza to allow about 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter the Strip, where people are suffering severely from lack of food, water, fuel and other necessities after Israel launched a blockade and air strikes. Days ago.

Biden did not give a timetable for opening the road, but US National Security spokesman John Kirby said it would happen in the coming days after road repairs.

Amid fears that the conflict could spread beyond Gaza, Biden planned to meet with Arab leaders. But Jordan canceled its scheduled summit there with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority after the hospital explosion.

Chinese official media reported that Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Thursday and stressed that the most urgent task is to cease fire and prevent the expansion of the war.

Interfax news agency reported that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also highlighted the risk of the conflict in Gaza turning into a regional one and that Russia is in contact with Turkey regarding this matter.

The United Nations prefers 100 trucks per day

UN humanitarian aid coordinator Martin Griffiths told the Security Council on Wednesday that the organization had sought to restore aid shipments to Gaza to 100 trucks per day, the level before the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

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Biden is scheduled to speak from the White House at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday (0000 GMT Friday) about the US response to Hamas attacks against Israel and the Russian war against Ukraine, the White House said. Also on Thursday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is scheduled to visit Israel.

Egypt, which had previously said the Rafah crossing was not technically closed but inoperable due to Israeli attacks, said Sisi and Biden agreed to provide aid to Gaza in a “sustainable way.” They were coordinating assistance efforts with international organizations affiliated with the United Nations.

During Biden’s visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that Israel would allow food, water and medicine to reach southern Gaza via Egypt.

Biden has faced intense global pressure to secure an Israeli commitment to alleviate the plight of civilians in the small, densely populated coastal enclave. He pledged to provide $100 million in US aid to civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Mark Negev, an adviser to Netanyahu, told CNN that Israel had agreed to allow aid to reach Gaza via Egypt “in principle,” but “we don’t want to see Hamas stealing aid intended for the civilian population. It’s a real problem.” “

Israel reiterated that it will not allow aid to enter through its crossing with Gaza until Hamas releases about 200 hostages it held during its cross-border attack on Israel on October 7. Activists killed about 1,400 people in the attack.

Biden told reporters that he had been frank with Israel regarding the need to facilitate aid to Gaza. He previously said he would ask Congress for an unprecedented aid package for Israel this week, although no action is possible until the House of Representatives elects a new president.

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A source familiar with the matter said that Biden is considering requesting $10 billion in aid for Israel on Friday.

Biden said the United States would do everything in its power to ensure Israel’s safety while also urging Israelis not to be drawn into anger, reiterating that the vast majority of Palestinians do not belong to Hamas.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza said that 3,478 Palestinians were martyred and 12,065 others were injured in Israeli air strikes on the besieged Strip since October 7.

“What distinguishes us from terrorists is that we believe in the basic dignity of every human life,” Biden said. If this is not respected, “the terrorists will win.”

(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Steve Holland in Tel Aviv and on board Air Force One, and the Washington and Jerusalem offices – Prepared by Muhammad for the Arab Bulletin – Editing by Muhammad Al-Yamani) Writing by Cynthia Osterman and Stephen Coates. Edited by Howard Goller, Simon Cameron-Moore and Lincoln Feast.

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.