Mohammed Abed Agence France-Presse Humanitarian aid is out from Egypt aboard 20 trucks, according to the UN, via the Rafah crossing, the only gateway to Gaza not in the hands of Israel.
Robin Millard – Agence France-Presse, Rosie Scammell – Agence France-Presse, Yahya Hassouna – Agence France-Presse Respectively in Geneva, Jerusalem and Rafah
- Middle East
The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it wanted to intensify its strikes on the Gaza Strip, carried out for two weeks in response to the Hamas attack against Israel, a few hours after the entry of a first humanitarian aid convoy, coming from Egypt, in the Palestinian territory.
The Rafah border crossing, the only exit from the Gaza Strip not to be controlled by Israel, closed, according to witnesses, after the passage of this convoy of 20 trucks, very insufficient according to the UN, for which it would take at least 100 trucks per day to meet the needs of the 2.4 million inhabitants of the territory.
For UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, “a massive delivery of aid is necessary”. At an international summit in Cairo, he called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” to “end the nightmare” of the population.
The Israeli army, meanwhile, continues to prepare for a ground offensive in Gaza against Hamas and wants to “increase strikes” on the territory from this Saturday, a spokesperson said.
On Saturday, Israeli bombardments continued on Gaza, while rocket fire from Palestinian groups continued to target Israel.
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The American Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, called on “all parties” to leave the Rafah crossing point open, “so that essential aid can be continuously delivered” to Gazans.
< p>More than a million Palestinians, according to the UN, fled bombings in the north of the Gaza Strip to take refuge in the south in disastrous humanitarian conditions.
Subject to an Israeli land, air and sea blockade since Hamas took power there in 2007, the Gaza Strip, a poor and cramped territory of 362 square kilometers, has been placed under “complete siege” since October 9. by Israel, which cut off water, electricity and food supplies.
More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel by Hamas since October 7, the majority civilians. mowed down by bullets, burned alive or died of mutilation on the day of the attack carried out from the Gaza Strip, according to the Israeli authorities.
The Israeli army announced that it had found the bodies of 1,500 Hamas fighters in the towns it regained control of after this attack, the deadliest since the creation of Israel in 1948.
In the band of Gaza, 4,385 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the incessant bombings carried out in retaliation by the Israeli army, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.
Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, also holds 210 Israeli, foreign and binational hostages, according to the army.
On Friday, the Islamist movement released two first hostages, Americans, a mother and her daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, via mediation from Qatar, where the Hamas political office is based.
Qatar considers possible a release “very soon” of the hostages thanks to ongoing discussions, said the spokesperson for the Qatari Foreign Ministry in an interview with the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Saturday.
The UN, for its part, reiterated its call for the “immediate and unconditional release” of all those kidnapped by Hamas.
Saturday, according to AFP journalists present on site, a first convoy of 20 trucks from the Egyptian Red Crescent, responsible for the delivery of aid sent by several agencies of the UN was able to enter the Gaza Strip.
Visiting Israel on Wednesday, American President Joe Biden indicated that this country had given the green light for the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, thus responding to the request of the international community.
< p>“Israel will not prevent humanitarian aid from Egypt as long as it involves food, water and medicine for the civilian population in the south of the Gaza Strip,” the official later confirmed. office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel, however, affirmed that it would not allow the entry of basic necessities or humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through its territory until Hamas had freed the hostages.
“44,000 bottles of water”
The convoy that entered on Saturday, carrying water, canned goods and medical supplies, “is far below the needs of the Gaza Strip,” assured a spokesperson for the Hamas government, Salameh Maarouf, specifying that in Normally some 500 trucks passed through the Palestinian territory every day.
More than 44,000 bottles of drinking water, “just enough for 22,000 people for a day”, were transported to Gaza, said UN.
The arrival of massive aid is “an emergency”, amid “truly catastrophic” conditions in Gaza, according to the World Food Program.
L The UN particularly insisted on the need to deliver fuel, vital for the Palestinian territory.
“Very dangerous message”
On Saturday, the Palestinian, Jordanian and Egyptian leaders meeting in Egypt alongside, in particular, European leaders Charles Michel and Josep Borrell, pleaded for a “ceasefire” and a “solution” to 75 years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The world is silent,” protested King Abdullah II of Jordan, seeing in it a “very dangerous message” that “the Arab world hears clearly,” about the value of Palestinian lives compared to that of Israeli lives. /p>
On Friday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Arab and Muslim countries in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“We will not leave” Palestinian lands, said the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, while Cairo and Amman are up in arms against the evacuation of Gazans to the south of Gaza demanded by Israel.
They see it as a first step towards “a forced displacement” towards the Egyptian Sinai which would, according to Mr. Abbas, amount to “a second Nakba” – catastrophe, in Arabic –, in reference to the 760,000 Palestinians pushed into exile after the creation of Israel in 1948.
Another source of tension, the region of northern Israel bordering Lebanon is emptying of its inhabitants, while skirmishes and exchanges of fire are increasing between the Israeli army and pro-Iranian Hezbollah, ally of Hamas.
The United States has deployed two aircraft carriers in the Eastern Mediterranean to deter Iran or Hezbollah from getting involved in the conflict.
In the West Bank, clashes left one person dead overnight, bringing to 84 the number of Palestinian deaths since October 7 in this Palestinian territory occupied by Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Joly and Hussen at the Cairo Peace Summit
Canadian Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly and International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen are in Egypt, where they are participating in the Cairo Peace Summit on Saturday and Sunday.
Approximately 430 Canadian nationals and their families are still stuck in Gaza, since the Hamas attack on October 7 against Israel, followed by reprisals by the Israeli army. Discussions are continuing on several fronts in order to evacuate them.
Ministers Joly and Hussen will meet their counterparts and foreign officials at the Summit.
“They will also exchange points of view with the international community on the risks that an escalation of violence poses to regional security,” specifies a press release published Saturday morning.
“Canada unequivocally condemns the “terrorist attack perpetrated against Israel by Hamas and will continue to call on all parties to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law,” said Minister Joly.
She will also meet with the staff from the Canadian Embassy in Cairo to discuss efforts to support Canadians in the region, including helping Canadians leave the Gaza Strip.
Canada has provided $10 million in humanitarian aid to respond to the urgent needs generated by the crisis in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Ministers Mélanie Joly and Ahmed Hussen will reiterate Canada's call for all civilians to be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law.
The Canadian Press