Israel approves reopening of Erez crossing into Gaza, use of Ashdod port for aid

News Excerpt:

Israel said it approved the reopening of the Erez crossing into northern Gaza and the temporary use of Ashdod port in southern Israel, following U.S. demands to increase humanitarian aid supplies into Gaza.

About the news: 

  • U.S. President Joe Biden demanded "specific, concrete" steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying conditions could be placed on U.S. aid if Israel did not respond.
  • The growing pressure on Israel came after the killing of seven aid workers in an Israeli strike which triggered global outrage at the continuing problems with aid deliveries into the besieged enclave.
  • In addition to reopening the Erez crossing point, Israel also approved increasing Jordanian aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing point.
  • The decision to reopen the Beit Hanoon (Erez) crossing, the main crossing point from Israel into northern Gaza before the war, represented a major shift after Israeli officials previously rejected calls for more entry points into Gaza to be opened up.
  • This is highly significant as there are concerns about a man-made famine in Gaza amidst a deepening displacement and hunger crisis in the strip.

Attacks on aid workers:

  • In the wake of the deadly strike on the WCK (World Central Kitchen) convoy, the associated death toll has strained the unqualified support Israel enjoyed in the aftermath of the October 7 attack. 
  • The WCK, an international charity that has brought hundreds of tonnes of food aid into Gaza has pulled out of Gaza, and it is unclear if it will return.
  • To aid the Palestinians, Israel would need to show that the humanitarian issue is important to it as well and the war is not against innocent civilians. 
  • It may include opening more crossings, appointing a humanitarian aid czar, conducting regular meetings with aid organizations, laying water pipes into Gaza ahead of the summer, and even establishing Israeli field hospitals on the border.

Urgent need of the aid:

  • Aid agencies’ efforts to get humanitarian assistance to where it is most needed have been severely hampered by logistical obstacles, a breakdown of public order, and lengthy bureaucracy.
  • The number of aid trucks entering the territory by land over the past five months has been far below the 500 a day that entered before the war.
  • At the end of February, the UN said at least 576,000 people in Gaza – a quarter of its population – were “one step away from famine”.
  • In mid-March, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification – a group that includes the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization – said 1.1 million people, half of Gaza’s population, were facing famine.

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