Israel to allow aid into Gaza via Kerem Shalom crossing

December 16, 2023 by AAP
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The World Health Organisation has welcomed the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to allow aid into the enclave.

Israel transfers hundreds of truckloads of goods through the Kerem Shalom land crossing. Photo: IDF

Israel has approved the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing, the Israeli prime minister’s office says.

The office said in a statement the opening would allow Israel to maintain its commitments to permit the entry of 200 trucks of aid per day, agreed upon in a hostage deal brokered and implemented last month.

The crossing had been closed after an October 7 attack by Hamas and aid was being delivered solely through Gaza’s Rafah crossing with Egypt which, Israel said, could only accommodate the entry of 100 trucks per day.

US national security adviser Jake Sullivan welcomed the decision to open the crossing, which he called a “significant step,” saying the White House hoped it would ease congestion and help facilitate the delivery and distribution of humanitarian aid through Rafah.

The World Health Organisation also welcomed the move as “good news.”

Kerem Shalom, on the border of Egypt, Israel and Gaza, is one of the main transit points for goods in and out of Gaza, allowing much faster transit than the Rafah passenger crossing a few kilometres away.

Israel had already agreed to allow trucks to be inspected at Kerem Shalom but the trucks had previously been obliged to return to Rafah to cross into Gaza from Egypt and aid groups had been calling for them to be allowed in directly.

As Israel’s campaign in Gaza has continued, the humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave has worsened dramatically with the United Nations and other world bodies warning of severe shortages of food, clean water and medicines.

UN agencies say that as the bombardment has continued, it has become impossible to distribute aid outside Rafah, where the population has been swollen to about one million with hundreds of thousands of refugees coming from areas further north.

The United States is pushing Israel to focus the war in Gaza on precise targeting of Hamas leaders rather than widespread bombing and ground operations, Sullivan said on Friday.

Israel has so far resisted increasing global pressure to rein in the Gaza offensive, which has killed almost 19,000 Palestinians since the Hamas assault that killed about 1200 people in southern Israel on October 7.

“There will be a transition to another phase of this war, one that is focused in more precise ways on targeting the leadership and on intelligence driven operations,” Sullivan told reporters during a visit to Israel.

“When exactly that happens and under exactly what conditions will be a continuing intensive discussion between the United States and Israel,” he said.

Sullivan said he had discussed the timing of the shift at his meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the war cabinet and military chiefs on Thursday.


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