Cairo, Egypt – In a glimmer of hope for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, a convoy of 20 aid trucks has finally entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. This development comes after intensive negotiations involving the United States, Israel, Egypt, and the United Nations.
However, the aid shipment, mainly consisting of medical supplies, offers only limited relief to a population under siege, struggling to access basic necessities like food and water.
Under the US-brokered agreement, these 20 trucks are the first to be allowed into Gaza. The deliveries, facilitated by the Egyptian Red Crescent to the Palestinian Red Crescent organization, are a modest beginning in addressing the dire situation. Unfortunately, there is no expectation of further deliveries on Sunday, with the next consignment scheduled to be a UN convoy arriving on Monday.
Israel has expressed concerns about ensuring that the aid reaches its intended recipients and is not seized or diverted by Hamas. Verification procedures are still under discussion, according to a UN official.
Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, emphasized the critical nature of uninterrupted aid delivery and warned that any interference by Hamas would hinder international assistance efforts.
Aid agencies are also in negotiations with Israel to include fuel in humanitarian convoys. Fuel is vital for hospital generators and Gaza’s water desalination and pumping systems, which are currently under severe strain.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, who visited the Rafah crossing, described the situation as a “godawful nightmare” and called for a humanitarian ceasefire. He emphasized that the people of Gaza require a sustained commitment to much larger-scale aid deliveries.
The situation at the Rafah crossing is symbolic of the paradox seen by Guterres: trucks teeming with supplies on one side and 2 million people on the other side without essential provisions like water, food, fuel, electricity, and medicine.
The summit held in Cairo aimed to create a roadmap for humanitarian relief and revive hopes of Israeli-Palestinian peace, with the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi as a key figure. Notably, there was no Israeli delegation, and no high-ranking US official was present, with the US being represented by its chargé d’affaires in Cairo, Beth Jones.
Despite being relegated to a bystander in the Israel-Hamas conflict, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declared the unwavering determination of Palestinians to remain on their land.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, highlighted that the medical supplies entering Gaza include trauma and chronic disease medicines, as well as basic essential medicines. He stressed the importance of protecting humanitarian teams and ensuring sustained humanitarian access.
The delivery of 20 truckloads of supplies, while a positive step, is only a fraction of what used to cross the Rafah border before the recent conflict. On average, around 500 trucks provided a lifeline to millions of Gazans each day.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s head of humanitarian affairs and emergency relief, expressed confidence that this delivery would mark the beginning of a sustained effort to provide essential supplies in a safe and unimpeded manner. The absence of fuel, which is crucial for hospitals, water pumps, and desalination plants, remains a pressing concern.
The reopening of the Rafah crossing represents a vital lifeline for Gaza, but there is an urgent call for a ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian corridors to address the dire humanitarian crisis affecting 2.2 million Gazans.