Jerusalem, Oct 18 (EFE).- US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Israel has agreed to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
Israel has imposed a total siege of the enclave in response to the Oct. 7 surprise attack by militants from Hamas, the Islamist group that governs the Strip, where the humanitarian situation is “dire”, according to the United Nations.
“The people of Gaza need food, water, medicine, shelter,” Biden said as he explained that he had called on the Israeli government during meetings earlier on Wednesday to deliver “lifesaving humanitarian assistance” to the Strip.
“Based on the understanding that there will be inspections and that the aid should go to civilians, not to Hamas, Israel agreed that humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza,” the US president said.
More than 100 containers of humanitarian aid have for days been waiting at the Rafah crossing with northern Egypt – the only one in the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel – for the Israeli government to give the go-ahead for them to enter the besieged enclave.
“We’re working in close cooperation with the government of Egypt; the United Nations and its agencies, like the World Food Program; and other partners in the region to get trucks moving across the border as soon as possible,” Biden said.
The president also announced an aid fund of $100 million in humanitarian assistance for Gaza and the occupied West Bank, in support of more than one million people displaced by the conflict.
Following Biden’s remarks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office clarified that “Israel will not prevent humanitarian assistance from Egypt, as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population located in the southern Gaza Strip”.
“As long as these supplies do not reach Hamas,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office added. “Any supplies that reach Hamas – will be prevented.”
After 11 days of opposing the entry of basic humanitarian aid from Egypt, Israel made the concession Wednesday “in light of the sweeping and vital American support for the war effort, as well as US President Biden’s request.”
Israel’s war cabinet also clarified that no humanitarian assistance would be allowed from Israel into the Gaza Strip “as long as our captives are not returned,” referring to the over 100 hostages who were kidnapped on Oct. 7.
Israel has also demanded Red Cross visits with the hostages and was “working to mobilize broad international support for this demand.”
Hundreds of thousands of Gazans are evacuated in the south of the Strip, where supplies of drinking water and food are scarce amid the intense Israeli bombardment, which has left more than 3,400 dead in the enclave and at least 11,000 wounded.
The attack by Hamas on Oct 7 in Israel, which unleashed the latest wave of violence, caused some 1,400 deaths on the Israeli side. EFE