Senators Van Hollen and Merkley expose delays and rejections in humanitarian aid intended for Palestinians in Gaza, citing the actions of Israeli inspectors.
Israeli inspectors have denied entry to Gaza-bound trucks at Egypt’s Rafah border crossing for weeks, resulting in long queues of aid-laden vehicles, as well as denied the passing of a warehouse with goods like water-testing equipment and medical kits intended for delivering babies, two U.S. senators said on Saturday.
They blamed Israeli inspections for the slow pace of aid delivery, condemning the arbitrary rejection of crucial humanitarian supplies. The system designed to protect aid deliveries within Gaza from Israeli forces is described as “totally broken.”
“What struck me yesterday was the miles of backed-up trucks. We couldn’t count, but there were hundreds,” Jeff Merkley said in a briefing with Chris Van Hollen to reporters in Cairo on Saturday.
Israel claimed that these inspections are necessary to prevent military-use items from reaching Hamas, citing the resistance group’s report of allegedly stealing humanitarian aid trucks.
Israel claims that Hamas allegedly hoards supplies and prevents their distribution to Palestinians.
Colonel Elad Goren, a senior official in the Israeli military body overseeing Palestinian civilian affairs (COGAT), acknowledged that security checks might be causing delays but largely attributed the hindrances to international agencies and the United Nations during a recent press briefing in Jerusalem.
The United States has been urging Israel to increase the flow of essential supplies into Gaza, with a UN Security Council resolution passed on December 22 demanding an immediate boost in deliveries.
While Israel opened the Kerem Shalom crossing three weeks ago, which added a second entry point for aid after Rafah, the rate of truck entries has not increased.
Nevertheless, there has been no substantial increase in the number of trucks entering. According to UN statistics, last week saw an average of approximately 120 trucks daily passing through Rafah and Kerem Shalom combined. This figure falls considerably short of the pre-war daily influx of 500 trucks, and it falls significantly below the quantity deemed necessary by aid organisations.
The Israeli occupation forces have killed 22,722 Palestinians in Gaza while injuring 58,166 others since October 7, according to the latest figures by the Strip’s health authorities.
The Israeli genocide in Gaza since October 7, marked by a high death toll and widespread displacement, has left Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians grappling with severe challenges, with a significant portion relying on aid deliveries for survival.
UN reports indicate that one in four Palestinians in Gaza is facing starvation, while the rest are dealing with crisis-level hunger.
Over 85% of Gaza’s population has been displaced, seeking refuge in overcrowded UN shelters or makeshift camps, as the few functioning hospitals struggle to cope with the influx of wounded and patients amid collapsing sanitation systems.