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Israel’s daily pause in fighting in parts of Gaza: How effective is it?

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Israel says some of the daily Stop military activities A suspension of humanitarian aid to parts of southern Gaza will begin this week, aimed at allowing humanitarian organizations to more safely deliver aid to the area. Here’s a look at how the suspension is being implemented and whether aid workers think it has any chance of alleviating civilian suffering that the United Nations says is near famine:

The military said Sunday it had suspended daytime operations in parts of southern Gaza, responding to aid groups’ claims that heavy fighting often prevented them from distributing food. The policy applies to a seven-mile strip in southeastern Gaza that surrounds a main road. It does not include coastal areas where Palestinians have fled since Israel began its incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah in early May.

There was evidence Monday that the move is starting to take effect.

Aid groups said the suspension appeared to be in effect but would not automatically translate into a free flow of aid.

Supplies are stored in warehouses before being distributed. In Rafah, the epicentre of the aid effort, it is almost impossible to find warehouses because they have been destroyed or are inaccessible, Refugees International president Jeremy Konedyk said on Tuesday.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said Tuesday that international organizations “have not yet collected” 1,400 truckloads of aid shipped from Israel to Gaza. Before the war, about 500 truckloads of food and other supplies were delivered to the Gaza Strip each day, according to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs.

The amount of aid and commercial supplies entering Gaza through the two main crossings of Rafah and Kerem Shalom has fluctuated in recent months but has never reached the daily numbers humanitarian officials say are needed to address the hunger crisis. The International Rescue Committee, which works in Gaza, said the “situation has reached a new low” since the Israeli offensive on Rafah began in early May.

Aid groups welcomed Israel’s announcement, but some expressed skepticism, saying previous measures had been short-lived. Some aid groups also said the pause in daytime military operations appeared fragile. Aid groups said overall a comprehensive ceasefire was a prerequisite for ending the crisis because it would allow aid to flow throughout the region.

Aid groups say more than a partial suspension is needed to resolve the crisis. These include opening more routes for goods and aid workers, especially since Palestinian medical staff must be trained to treat severely malnourished patients.

Israel checks cargo entering Gaza to screen for items that could be used by Hamas; aid groups say the checks are cumbersome and should be streamlined. In addition, many of Gaza’s roads are impassable, clogged with the rubble of destroyed buildings or pockmarked with bomb craters.

In the absence of a ceasefire, aid groups say Israel should improve its communication systems about the movement of people and goods in Gaza. That would help avoid attacks on aid convoys, which in some cases have occurred even when humanitarian officials say Israeli authorities were notified of their movements in advance.

Aid groups also say there is a need to improve supplies of water, electricity and fuel.

According to UNRWA, the main UN aid agency for Palestinians, Rafah’s population had swelled to 1.4 million before the May invasion, but now only 65,000 remain. The UN has described the situation in Gaza as a disaster and said parts of the region are close to what they call a man-made famine. There is also a lack of water, sanitation, shelter and medical care in the area.

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