The entry of the aid convoys into Gaza came as world leaders gathered in neighbouring Egypt for the ‘Cairo Peace Summit’ on the developments in Palestine.
The shared Egypt-Gaza Rafah crossing finally opened on Saturday morning to enable a limited amount of urgent aid to enter the Strip, as Israel continued its bombardment of the city and refuses to completely lift the siege.
A total of 20 aid trucks carrying tonnes of foreign aid entered into the Strip from Egypt for the first time in two weeks, carrying a small amount of medicine and food supplies.
However, the Red Crescent said the aid “would not meet more than a fraction of the needs in Gaza”, Palestine’s Wafa news agency reported.
Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari also said on Saturday that “fuel will not enter Gaza.”
At least 200 trucks have been lining up at the Rafah crossing carrying aid delivered to the Al Arish International Airport in Sinai by countries including Qatar, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar delivered 37 tonnes of aid to Sinai on Monday.
The World Health Organization (WHO) separately said the aid includes trauma medicines and supplies for only 1,200 people as well as chronic disease medicines and treatments for 1,500 people.
“These supplies are a lifeline for severely injured people or those battling chronic illnesses, who have endured a harrowing two weeks of limited access to care and severe shortages of medicines and medical supplies,” WHO said.
Meanwhile, a number of Palestinian dual citizens have been stranded at the crossing, awaiting evacuation from Gaza since Israel declared war and imposed a brutal siege on October 7.
The Rafah crossing is the only way in and out of Gaza and has long served as a lifeline for Palestinians in the besieged enclave who have been living under an illegal Israeli air, land and sea blockade since 2007.
The crossing has been subjected to at least three attacks by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) since the beginning of the aggression on Gaza last week, which has destroyed much of the infrastructure on the Palestinian side.
Egypt shut the crossing in response to those attacks and has been awaiting Israel’s approval in order to let aid cross into Gaza.
However, Israel agreed to allow the entry of aid on Wednesday in response to the demands of its ally, the United States, during a visit by President Joe Biden to Tel Aviv.
“In light of President Biden’s demand, Israel will not thwart humanitarian supplies from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population in the southern Gaza Strip,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement at the time.
Martin Griffiths, the United Nations’ emergency relief coordinator, said the much-awaited entry of the aid followed “days of deep and intense negotiations with all relevant sides to make sure that aid operation into Gaza resumes as quickly as possible and with the right conditions”.
“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,” he added.
Israel has ordered a complete siege on Gaza since the start of its deadly war on the Palestinian territory, exacerbating the struggle of the area’s 2.3 million population. The blockade has been widely slammed as a form of “collective punishment” on Palestinians.
The complete blockade was announced amid the ongoing Israeli bombardment of Gaza that has killed at least 4,137 Palestinians, including more than 1,500 children—who represent a third of the total casualties.
Qatar has been at the forefront of de-escalation efforts since the start of the deadly Israeli aggression on Gaza. Officials in Doha have since been in close contact with key international partners— namely the US, the United Kingdom, Iran, Turkiye, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, among others—in an effort to end the Israeli escalations in Gaza.
The Gulf state has also been engaged in talks with its partners over the establishment of a safe humanitarian corridor. Notably, the diplomatic heavyweight managed to secure the release of two American captives, a mother and a daughter, from Hamas on Friday.
Hamas said it released the women, Judith Raanan and Natalie Raanan, on “humanitarian grounds” and in response to Qatar’s mediation.
World leaders meet in Cairo
The entry of the aid convoys into Gaza came as world leaders gathered in neighbouring Egypt for the ‘Cairo Peace Summit’ to dicuss the developments in Palestine, particularly the Israeli onslaught in Gaza.
Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani joined world leaders and diplomats at the summit in Cairo in response to an invitation from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
In his opening address, the Egyptian president said he agreed with his American counterpart to operate the Rafah crossing “continuously” under the UN’s supervision. The US president is not among the attendees at the summit, despite previous reports claiming that he would join leaders in Cairo.
The Egyptian leader further expressed his concern over the double-standard response over the catastrophe in Gaza.
“Where are the values of the humanitarian civilisation that we have built over the years and centuries? Where is the equality between innocent people without double standards?” El-Sisi said.
Egypt has been heavily concerned over a potential refugee crisis that could be triggered as a result of Israel’s war on Gaza, with reported plans to relocate the Strip’s population to the Sinai peninsula. Sisi told leaders at the summit that he is against moving Gaza’s residents to the Egyptian territory.
Speaking after the Egyptian president, Jordan’s King Abdullah II addressed the Western audience in the English language. The Jordanian king started his remarks by slamming the “collective punishment of a besieged and helpless people”, referring to Gazans.
“Anywhere else attacking civilian infrastructure and deliberately starving an entire population of food, water, electricity and basic necessities would be condemned, accountability would be enforced immediately, unequivocally. It has been done before, recently, in another conflict, but not in Gaza,” King Abdullah said.
He added: “Today Israel is literally starving civilians in Gaza but for decades Palestinians have been starved of hope, of freedom and of the future.”
The bold remarks come despite Jordan holding diplomatic ties with Israel. However, he did reiterate the need for peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
“Because when the bombs stop falling, Israel is never held accountable, the injustices of occupation continue and the world walks away until the next round of violence,” the Jordanian leader noted.