Rafah, Gaza, Oct 22 (EFE).- Clashes between Palestinian militants and the Israeli military along the border region between Israel and the southeastern part of Gaza impeded the delivery of humanitarian aid from Egypt to the war-torn strip on Sunday.
Gaza, under an intense 15-year Israeli blockade further tightened after the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Islamist Hamas group erupted on Oct.7, is facing grave shortages of food, medicine, and water.
The fresh armed clashes occurred as the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza reopened to deliver a second batch of urgently needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn Palestinian enclave.
Seventeen trucks loaded with food, water, and medicine were forced to re-route due to the clashes between the al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and Israeli troops near the border fence between Gaza and Israel.
The Islamist Hamas group reported through Telegram that its fighters ambushed Israeli soldiers in the fence area between Israel and the southeastern part of the strip in the Khan Younis governorate.
According to al-Qassam, Israeli troops “crossed the fence” into the strip for several meters, prompting Palestinian militants to engage the soldiers in exchanges of fire, which included an attack on an Israeli tank, leading to the withdrawal of the troops.
The Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired at soldiers “operating west of the Gaza Strip security fence.”
An army statement said a tank engaged terrorists who fired at the military.
Although there has been no official confirmation from the army, reports indicate that some Israeli soldiers sustained injuries in the clashes.
Witnesses on the Egyptian side of Rafah, including journalists, told EFE that they heard explosions near the border crossing and sounds of flying bombers.
The clashes occurred just as trucks entered the Palestinian enclave from the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, carrying medicine, food, and drinking water.
Hundreds of trucks, loaded with tons of vital relief supplies for Gaza, had queued up for days, even as Israeli military strikes pounded the enclave to dismantle the Hamas network.
The crossing was initially opened on Saturday when 20 trucks headed into Gaza to deliver aid after the strip had endured two weeks of devastating Israeli bombardments and had been subjected to a crippling blockade for the past 15 years.
Israel allowed the aid delivery and let 20 trucks filled with supplies enter Gaza after intense international pressure to allow the passage of humanitarian assistance.
However, the aid delivery did not include fuel, leaving Gaza hospitals without electricity and teetering on the brink as they struggled to operate their generators.
However, the crossing point was closed again soon after the aid trucks returned from Gaza to the Egyptian side on Saturday evening.
The strip, home to 2.3 million people, including 1.4 million internally displaced by Israel’s bombings in the north, is in dire need of aid, with thousands having lost their lives and many more wounded in the Israeli military campaign.
The humanitarian effort has offered a glimmer of hope amid the ongoing challenges facing the people of Gaza.
In the 16 days of the war, Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 4,650 Palestinians, including nearly 1,900 children, over 1,000 women, and some 187 elderly individuals, according to the health ministry.
The number of injured people exceeds 14,000, and an estimated 1,450 people remain missing under the rubble of razed buildings, with 800 of them being minors.