Gallant says Israel plans to ‘flood Gaza with aid’ via new crossing into Strip’s north

Defense minister says Jerusalem seeks to boost humanitarian assistance traveling on the ground from Jordan and from Israel’s Ashdod Port

A video released by the Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization shows trucks being loaded with aid and sent to Gaza, April 7, 2024. (Jordan Hashemite Charity/AFP)

Israel will open a new land crossing into the Gaza Strip designed mainly to facilitate deliveries to Palestinians of aid from overseas or from neighboring Jordan, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday.

The new entry point appears to come instead of reopening the Erez crossing into northern Gaza — which was significantly damaged on October 7, and where many Israelis were killed and abducted — which Israel had said last week it was planning to do.

Briefing foreign reporters in English, Gallant said a new crossing point would be created on the northern part of the Gaza border to reduce the time taken to truck in aid from Ashdod, 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. An aide said the crossing point would be between Kibbutz Zikim and the Palestinian village of As-Siafa, close to the Mediterranean.

Since December, Israel has gradually reopened two established cargo crossings and created a new crossing on its border, and last week announced it would admit Gaza-bound aid shipments at its southern port of Ashdod.

Gallant said the new crossing point would boost the delivery of aid brought in via ground from Jordan.

“These breakthroughs have a direct impact on the flow of aid — we plan to flood Gaza with aid,” he said, saying that Israel has a goal of at least 500 trucks a day. “It will also streamline security checks and strengthen our work with international partners.”

Israel has also helped set up a maritime corridor for direct deliveries of aid to Gaza by sea and opened its airspace to foreign planes that have parachuted in aid for Palestinians.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during an assessment at IDF Southern Command, April 7, 2024. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Gallant said the Israeli plan to drastically boost aid entering the impoverished Strip includes the opening of the Ashdod Port to shipments; the creation of the new crossing; the boost of aid traveling from Jordan; increasing its cooperation with international organizations; and working with the US and others to boost shipments via sea, including a planned US dock.

“We are increasing the scope of aid. We are facing big challenges in terms of securing and distributing aid,” Gallant told reporters. “This is the result of Hamas threats and also the issue of planning for the day after Hamas.”

The defense minister said that there are “three bad options for the day after: Hamas controlling Gaza, Israel controlling Gaza and total anarchy. We need to create another option – to empower a local alternative. The humanitarian effort is key in empowering a local alternative.”

Army Radio reported earlier Wednesday that the establishment of the new crossing is aimed in part at making it more difficult for Israeli activists to stage protests aimed at blocking the entry of aid, which some have been doing for several months.

Israeli protesters, largely from the right side of the political spectrum, have attempted to block aid trucks at the Kerem Shalom crossing, arguing that relief should be withheld until the hostages held in Gaza are freed.

Israeli security forces guard as protesters rally against the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom crossing on January 29, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Gallant also highlighted the recent creation of Crossing 96 into northern Gaza, which has recently been partially opened across from Gaza City. He said that 468 trucks entered Gaza on Tuesday, the highest one-day total since the start of the war. Israel and the UN have disputed the number of aid trucks entering the Strip, with each relying on different counting methods.

Israel launched its war against Hamas in Gaza following the terror group’s devastating October 7 assault on southern Israel. In the ensuing six months, the Israeli air and ground offensive has flattened much of the Strip, displaced the majority of its 2.3 million residents, the vast majority of whom are facing food insecurity, with many areas said to be experiencing famine and widespread disease.

The World Central Kitchen, which was operating in Gaza since October, halted its operations last week following an Israeli airstrike on its convoy which killed seven of its workers. The IDF has insisted that the incident was a “tragic mistake,” and the military dismissed the two officers responsible and formally reprimanded senior commanders after an inquiry.

The killings reignited a wave of international pressure on Israel to boost aid and minimize civilian casualties, including harsh criticism from some of its closest allies.

The US is building a jetty off the coast of Gaza designed to facilitate aid shipments arriving via sea, aiming to open by May 1. Cyprus says it plans to soon restart the shipments of aid from its port of Larnaca to Gaza, which were halted after the WCK strike.

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