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First Aid Trucks Finally Start to Cross into the Gaza Strip from Egypt at Rafah

October 21, 2023
FILE PHOTO: Trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs for Palestinians, wait for the reopening of the Rafah crossing at the Egyptian side, to enter Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Egypt October 17, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

The Rafah Crossing on the border between Egypt and Gaza has opened to allow in aid trucks that had so far been unable to cross.

Over 20 trucks of aid had been stuck at the border crossing for over a week, but have been delayed in entry due to the severe damages caused by Israeli airstrikes. The trucks are carrying humanitarian aid under the supervision of international organizations.

UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Antonio Guterres held a press conference on Friday, 20 October, at the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”

“We are actively engaging with all the parties in order to clarify these restrictions so we can have these trucks moving towards where they’re needed,” he said. We need these trucks moving as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has stated that the timing for the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza through the Rafah crossing “is to be determined.”

The Israeli government had previously announced that it would not obstruct the flow of humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip from Egypt. This decision followed international pressure from Israel’s allies. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents have been forced to evacuate their homes due to ongoing Israeli airstrikes.

“Many people would attempt to cross should the border open, and US citizens attempting to enter Egypt should expect a potentially chaotic and disorderly environment on both sides of the crossing,” the US Embassy in Israel said in a statement.

Egypt started removing concrete barriers at the Rafah crossing on Friday, 20 October. The road access linking the Egyptian and Gazan sides have sustained severe damage as a result of Israeli airstrikes in the past week.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and US President Joe Biden agreed to the delivery of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, following a phone call between the two presidents on Wednesday evening, 18 October, the spokesman for the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.

In a statement to the press aboard the presidential plane Air Force One, Biden said that it was agreed that up to 20 trucks would be allowed to go into Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

The Conflict So Far

After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 200 being taken ‘hostage’ by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.

So far, 3,785 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — over 1,000 of them children — and 10,859 others injured. Meanwhile 62 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and 13,300have been injured.

The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing.

Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, Arab governments have called for an immediate ceasefire.

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