Cairo/Jerusalem/Gaza, Oct 16 (EFE).- Egypt is preparing to reopen a border crossing into Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid and facilitate the evacuation of foreigners, sources said on Monday, amid a near catastrophic situation in the Middle East.
The United Nations has warned that the ongoing intense Israeli bombardment in the blockaded Palestinian enclave has caused thousands of casualties and displacement, pushing the region “on the verge of the abyss.”
Israel has been preparing for a potential ground invasion of Gaza as hectic diplomatic efforts go on to deliver aid to the region under a strict blockade by the Israeli military.
Egypt has agreed to reopen the Rafah crossing, connecting the Gaza Strip to the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, to facilitate the much-needed distribution of humanitarian aid and the departure of foreigners through the only passage in and out of the enclave not controlled by Israel.
An Egyptian security source, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, told EFE that “the crossing will be opened today, although the timing is yet to be confirmed.”
Another source indicated that the passage would prioritize the entry of Arab and Egyptian aid into Gaza and the departure of foreigners.
While negotiations with the United States have been ongoing to secure the reopening of the border crossing, the Egyptian government has not officially confirmed its decision.
The US, with Egypt, Israel, and Qatar, has negotiated an agreement allowing hundreds of foreigners and Palestinians holding passports from various countries, including Americans and Europeans, to depart from Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
However, Egyptian authorities have said they would permit foreigners from Gaza to enter their country if aid is simultaneously allowed to reach the 2.2 million people in the crowded enclave.
Much-needed humanitarian aid, including medicine for Gaza’s hospitals, awaits transit through the Rafah crossing.
The situation in Gaza has rapidly deteriorated following Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and the looming threat of a ground invasion.
Thousands of lives have been lost and hundreds of thousands displaced due to Israel’s ongoing airstrikes and blockade, leading to critical shortages of clean water and essential supplies after the Hamas militant group launched an attack on October 7 on several locations inside Israel and Israel’s subsequent declaration of war.
The UN reported that clean water and other vital supplies were dwindling inside Gaza.
“In this dramatic moment, as we are on the verge of the abyss in the Middle East, it is my duty as Secretary-General of the United Nations to make two strong humanitarian appeals,” said UN chief António Guterres in a press statement.
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency dealing with Palestinian refugees, said its operation was “on the verge of collapse” and that “not one drop of water, not one grain of wheat, not a liter of fuel” had been allowed into the Gaza Strip for the last eight days.
The UN has confirmed the displacement of at least 600,000 Palestinians from the north to the center and south of Gaza in response to Israel’s evacuation order before a potential ground assault against the Hamas militant group.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied media reports on Monday that there was a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.
“There is currently no truce or humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.
Earlier, some media outlets reported that Israel had agreed to the cessation of hostilities starting at 9 a.m. local time in an arrangement agreed with Egypt and the US.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected in Israel on Monday, visiting the area for the second time in a week as part of diplomatic contacts to address the crisis in the region.