Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has agreed to reopen the Rafah crossing to allow a limited humanitarian aid convoy to enter Gaza, United States President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet.
Twenty aid trucks are “not enough”, said the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the world’s largest humanitarian network. “We’re talking about two million people … 20 trucks will be a drop in the ocean.”
Biden revealed that an initial group of 20 trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid supplies will be allowed to cross into Gaza through the sole Egyption-Gazan crossing point. However, Biden also noted that if the aid is confiscated by Hamas, it will lead to an immediate termination of this arrangement.
Humanitarian aid is expected to start moving across the border at the earliest on Friday, according to White House officials. Meanwhile, necessary repairs are expected to be completed on the damaged entry roads resulting from Israeli airstrikes.
Israel also said on Wednesday that it would allow Egypt to deliver a limited amount of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. The decision, which encompasses supplies such as water, food, and other essential items, was announced amid escalating tensions and anger in the wake of an explosion at Gaza City’s al-Ahli Hospital that killed hundreds of Palestinians, which has provoked reactions throughout the Middle East.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed that the decision to allow aid to cross the border from Egypt was made at the request of Biden. Israel has stated that it will not hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance, as long as it is specifically designated for civilians in the southern part of the Gaza Strip and does not fall into the hands of Hamas militants. Notably, Israel’s statement did not mention the provision of fuel, which is urgently needed for hospital generators in the region.
Aid groups and others have been warning of a humanitarian catastrophe for civilians trapped in Gaza, which has been blockaded and bombed by Israel since Hamas launched unprecedented attacks on the country on 7 October.