Home News Middle East crisis: Biden’s warning on arms supplies draws ire from Israel

Middle East crisis: Biden’s warning on arms supplies draws ire from Israel

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The United Nations has warned that Israel’s military incursion into Rafah and closure of the crossing is a major setback for aid operations in the Gaza Strip, with dire consequences for its people.

No aid trucks have entered Gaza since Sunday, United Nations said On Wednesday, Israel sent tanks and troops to Rafah and blocked the two southern crossings through which most aid comes in, near Rafah on the Egyptian border and near Kerem Shalom on the Israeli border.

Israel said the Kerem Shalom crossing reopened on Wednesday but did not say when the Rafah crossing would reopen. The United Nations disputes Israel’s claims.

The fighting in the Rafah area and the closure of the crossing has brought aid efforts, at least temporarily, back to what they were like in the early weeks of the war, when an Israeli and Egyptian blockade prevented anything from entering Gaza, leading to severe shortages of food, water, fuel, medicine and other supplies. Israel describes the military operation that began on Monday as a limited incursion into Rafah to seize control of the border crossing, rather than the full-scale offensive it has vowed to carry out, despite warnings from the United States and aid groups that it would be a full-scale offensive. A humanitarian disaster.

United Nations officials said the situation threatened to halt all its humanitarian operations in Gaza.

As many as one million people, more than half of them children, have been displaced from other parts of Gaza, where they seek refuge and live in deplorable conditions and rely on international aid efforts.

“Rafa is the center of humanitarian action in Gaza,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday. “With famine looming, an attack on Rafah will further upend our efforts to support people in dire humanitarian circumstances.”

Before the war began last October, about 500 relief trucks and additional commercial trucks were delivering supplies daily to Gaza, a city of about 2.3 million people. Even after deliveries resumed, they were only a fraction of pre-war levels as Israel closed most border crossings, insisted on careful inspection of every shipment and banned some supplies.

In the second half of April and early May, the average daily number of humanitarian aid trucks increased to more than 200 in the second half of April and early May, according to the United Nations, but remains well below what aid agencies say is necessary, after the United States and other international communities mounted intense pressure on Israel. , which is also what the Biden administration has called for. No commercial trucks have entered Gaza since the war broke out in October.

For months, the United Nations and aid groups have struggled for access and safe passage for their staff working in Gaza, despite intense negotiations with Israel.

Now, U.N. officials say the limited progress they have made is in jeopardy.

“We manage the entire aid operation opportunistically, not holistically – if there is something we can seize,” U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in an interview on Wednesday. We’ll catch it.”

He added: “We want to be able to work without being in conflict zones and without the fear of the people we are trying to help.”

Displaced Palestinians search for water in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Wednesday.Credit…Mohammed Saber/EPA via Shutterstock

A day earlier, Andrea de Domenico, the head of the U.N. humanitarian office in the Palestinian territories, said in a video briefing to reporters from Jerusalem that fuel would run out within days, communications would be cut off and hospitals would close, Distribution of food and other necessities will cease. assistance.

Gaza’s power grid stopped working early in the war. The only electricity available now comes from generators, so fuel is essential.

Mr. DeDomenico said the presence of Israeli tanks and fighting around the Rafah border prevented the United Nations from accessing fuel in storage facilities in the area. He added that people were fleeing Rafah to areas without shelter, clean water and drainage systems.

“Without supplies coming in and fuel moving supplies to where people are concentrated, it’s impossible to improve the situation in newly displaced sites,” Mr DeDomenico said.

U.N. officials say it would be nearly impossible to deliver and distribute aid if the area around the Rafah crossing becomes a war zone.

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