The Karam Abu Salem border crossing, also known as Kerem Shalom by Israeli forces controlling the crossing, reopened on 17 December for aid trucks for the first time in the war on Gaza.
The crossing, the junction of the Gaza-Israel border and the Gaza-Egypt border, was closed by Israel following Hamas’ surprise attack on 7 October. Prior to the war, it was the main transit point for goods between Israel and Gaza.
The reopening aims to double the amount of food and medicine reaching Gaza while also alleviating pressure on the Rafah border crossing. Karam Abu Salem also provides a faster route compared to Rafah.
Around 79 aid trucks began entering through Karam Abu Salem according to officials cited by Reuters.
The crossing’s reopening is in line with last month’s hostage swap agreement, which obligates Israel to maintain its commitment to permit the entry of 200 trucks of aid per day.
However, concerns have been raised about the capacity of international agencies in Gaza to distribute aid effectively in light of a rising inflow of relief, particularly with an influx of Palestinians who have fled to the south of the enclave and severely restricted operational capacity amid constant Israeli bombing.
Colonel Elad Goren of Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which oversees the junction, noted that the United Nations needs to increase its capacity for aid distribution.
Despite the increase in aid, fuel and food shortages remain severe, with several international and domestic agencies on the ground reporting worsening sanitary and medical conditions across the Gaza Strip.
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 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
Over 19,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including nearly 8,000 children — and over 50,000 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 259 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and at least 3,365 have been injured.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been de-escalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
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, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.
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