UN says no aid entering yet, no one to receive it inside Gaza

IDF says Kerem Shalom Crossing reopened to Gaza aid, days after attack forced closure

Netanyahu had assured Biden the crossing would be reopened; Rafah Crossing with Egypt remains closed amid IDF operation there

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip seen at the re-opened Kerem Shalom Crossing, in a clip released by the IDF on May 8, 2024. (Israel Defence Forces)

Israel on Wednesday reopened a key crossing with the southern Gaza Strip for humanitarian aid deliveries after it was shuttered days earlier following a deadly Hamas rocket attack.

The move was made after the White House said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised President Joe Biden during a call Monday that he would reopen the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

Four soldiers were killed and 10 were wounded in the rocket strike from Gaza on a staging ground near the crossing on Sunday.

The Hamas terror group claimed responsibility for the attack, which according to the Israeli military, was launched from an area near Gaza’s Rafah Crossing with Egypt.

The Defense Ministry’s COGAT liaison unit said Kerem Shalom Crossing was reopened Wednesday morning for trucks to enter Gaza, per the “directives of the political echelon.”

COGAT said that the aid trucks, which come from Egypt, undergo Israeli inspection at Kerem Shalom before entering the Strip, as they have in recent months.

However, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said no aid had yet entered and there was no one to receive it on the Palestinian side.

A helicopter lands in southern Israel after a number of soldiers were killed in a Hamas rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom area, May 5, 2024. (Magen David Adom)

The Rafah Border Crossing, meanwhile, remained closed as of Wednesday morning as Israeli forces operated there, security sources said.

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday morning that it had seized Rafah Crossing in an overnight raid, in what the military called a “pinpoint operation” against the Hamas terror group.

The ground incursion into the eastern part of Rafah came after Jerusalem said a truce offer from Hamas the previous day did not meet its demands, and announced that it had okayed moving ahead with the long-threatened offensive in the southern Gaza city.

An Israeli official told The Times of Israel that it was a “limited operation” aimed at pressuring Hamas to accept a deal.

Rafah Crossing, located some 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the Israeli border, along the so-called Philadelphi Corridor separating Egypt and Gaza, had also been used to deliver aid trucks, following Israeli inspection.

The military said Wednesday morning that troops killed several gunmen and located tunnel shafts during operations in eastern Rafah over the past day.

IDF troops operate in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published May 8, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The tunnels discovered in the area were being prepared to be demolished by combat engineers, the IDF said.

In one incident in eastern Rafah, the IDF said troops of the Givati Brigade spotted an RPG-wielding operative and killed him.

On the Gazan side of Rafah Crossing, the military said the 401st Armored Brigade was carrying out raids following “indications and intelligence information that terrorists are taking advantage of the crossing area for terror purposes.”

The Air Force, meanwhile, struck more than 100 targets across the Strip over the past day, including buildings used by terror groups, observation posts, and rocket launchers, the IDF added.

IDF troops and tanks on the Gazan side of the Rafah border crossing on May 7, 2024 (Israel Defense Forces)

On Tuesday evening, the IDF said it carried out a drone strike against a rocket launcher in Rafah that was used in an attack on Israeli border communities.

Twelve rockets were launched at Israel in the attack, with the Iron Dome air defense system downing five of them. The other rockets hit open areas, causing no damage or injuries, according to the military.

The launcher in Rafah was hit within an hour of the attack, the IDF said.

In another attack on Tuesday, the IDF said six rockets were fired from the Rafah area toward the Kerem Shalom Crossing, which was still closed at the time. No injuries were caused in that attack.

“The projectiles that were fired toward the area of the Kerem Shalom Crossing are preventing the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip,” the military said in a statement Tuesday.

While crossings in the southern Gaza Strip had been closed amid increased military operations and Hamas attacks in the area, Israel’s Erez Crossing with the northern part of the Palestinian enclave has remained open in recent days, with COGAT reporting Tuesday that some 60 trucks were transferred via the crossing that day.

The US military has also completed construction of a floating pier off the coast of central Gaza to serve as another point of entry for aid, but weather conditions were making it unsafe to move the two-part facility into place, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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