By Ebi Kesiena
A small convoy of 20 trucks carrying aid to besieged Palestinian civilians in Gaza passed through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Saturday, marking the first of such relief since the start of the conflict.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, trucks carrying humanitarian aid, such as food, water, and medical supplies, passed through the Gaza border crossing and will be distributed within the Palestinian enclave.
The initial delivery came as the border crossing was opened to allow for modest levels of desperately needed aid to flow into Gaza as Palestinians faced severe shortages of food, medicine and water in the territory in the wake of Israeli military action taken in retaliation for a deadly assault by the militant group Hamas on Oct. 7 that killed 1,400 Israelis.
Palestinian health officials said on Saturday that 4,385 people in Gaza have died in the resulting Israeli bombardment campaign, including 1,756 children and 967 women.
As part of the first delivery through the crossing, the Red Crescent and the UN agency for Palestinian refugees coordinated the process.
The Red Crescent said in a statement “today’s entry of 20 trucks is a welcomed glimpse of hope, but this miniscule aid represents a drop in the ocean. We call on the international community to secure the continued flow humanitarian aid into Gaza including through the Israeli-controlled crossings’’
Martin Griffiths, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator added that the delivery follows days of deep and intense negotiations with all relevant sides.
“I am confident that this delivery will be the start of a sustainable effort to provide essential supplies including food, water, medicine and fuel to the people of Gaza, in a safe, dependable, unconditional and unimpeded manner, also we will ensure that the aid operation into Gaza resumes as quickly as possible and with the right conditions” Griffiths said.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced during his visit to Israel this week he had struck a deal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver aid into Gaza, but arguments over the logistics and conditions of the deliveries hampered the effort for days.
The first convoy finally passed into Gaza following the latest holdup at Rafah on Friday when the trucks were stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing in a chaotic scene as U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres visited the site hoping to announce a breakthrough in aid relief efforts.