Giuseooe Cacace Agence France-Presse Cargoes of aid have been arriving by air for days in Al-Arich, about 45 km from Rafah, the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza.
Beneath the noise of military jet engines, workers unload basic necessities at Egypt's Al-Arich airport, as international aid begins to trickle into the Gaza Strip besieged.
Officials bark orders and forklifts race across the tarmac to transport unloaded goods, including food and medicine.
Consignments of aid have been arriving by air for days at Al-Arich, about 45 km from Rafah, the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, the only opening into the small, ravaged Palestinian territory that is not in Israeli hands.
But it was only over the weekend that the first shipments were allowed to enter the small Palestinian territory, which has a population of 2.4 million and has been under complete siege by Israel since the surprise attack on Hamas.
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On October 7, in the middle of Shabbat, the weekly Jewish rest, hundreds of fighters from the Palestinian Islamist movement infiltrated Israel from the Gaza Strip, spreading terror in an attack unprecedented since Israel's creation in 1948 and triggering a deadly war.
More than 1,400 people were killed on Israeli soil, most civilians shot, burned alive or mutilated on the day of the attack, according to authorities.
Hamas kidnapped 222 hostages, Israelis and foreigners, according to the Israeli army.
According to the latest overall report from the Hamas government released on Monday, more than 5,000 people, the vast majority civilians including more than 2,000 children, were killed in Israeli retaliatory bombings on the Gaza Strip.
Only three aid convoys, around fifty trucks, have crossed the Rafa crossing point since Saturday, loaded with water and medical supplies.
The United Nations estimates that the population of Gaza, almost half of whom have been displaced by Israeli bombing, needs 100 aid trucks a day.
Aid ready to be sent
On Sunday, in less than an hour, two Qatari planes and an Indian plane landed in Al-Arich, and dozens of Egyptian Red Crescent employees rushed to unload them .
Youssef al-Mulla, a humanitarian with the Qatar Development Fund, said the Gulf emirate had provided more than 100 tons of aid intended for the Gaza Strip since the start of the crisis.
“This is the fourth flight to land in Al-Arich,” he told AFP at the airport, explaining that the first two flights delivered 37 tonnes of aid and the others approximately 86 tons.
According to him, only two trucks of Qatari aid entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday.
“We have […] help in Qatar. It is ready to be sent at any time” to Egypt, he said, “but we cannot store (it)” on Egyptian territory, where warehouses are already full, “and we cannot send it to Gaza”, he continued.
The two planes arriving on Sunday had been planned for three days but were delayed “due to the situation in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli blockade”, Mr. Mulla.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths called the first aid deliveries to Gaza a “small glimmer of hope” but warned people would have “need more, much more.”
The United States has promised continued aid delivery through a deal negotiated by President Joe Biden with Egyptian and Israeli leaders.
When one of Qatar's two planes left Al-Arich on Sunday to return to Doha, it left its cargo neatly stacked on the airport tarmac waiting for it to be transported to the Gaza Strip which is in dire need, with the humanitarian situation “catastrophic”, the UN has warned.