Biden official says Israel to enact ‘deconfliction mechanism’ in Gaza to protect aid workers

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza David Satterfield speaks during a webinar hosted by the Al-Monitor news site on November 21, 2023. (Screen capture/Zoom)
US envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza David Satterfield speaks during a webinar hosted by the Al-Monitor news site on November 21, 2023. (Screen capture/Zoom)

The Biden administration’s envoy for the humanitarian situation in Gaza says that Israel has responded to a US request to create a “deconfliction mechanism” to better ensure that humanitarian workers are protected amid ongoing IDF strikes in Gaza.

“We realized and we impressed upon Israel that more had to be done. There needed to be a single coordinated, functional deconfliction mechanism. It happens in other areas of conflict and it needs to happen now,” David Satterfield says in a webinar hosted by the Al-Monitor news site.

“Israel has taken those steps and I believe that the deconfliction mechanism is very shortly going to go into action. It is tragic that there had to be deaths before this was done, but the important thing is that Israel does recognize the need and is active,” Satterfield says.

While aid organizations have been increasingly calling on Israel to reopen its Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza to allow for a larger flow of aid into the Strip, Satterfield says Egypt’s Rafah crossing is sufficient on its own for the supply of aid into the Hamas-run enclave.

Rafah was designed to serve as a crossing for pedestrians and small vehicle traffic, but Satterfield says it can still handle the volume of assistance needed for Gaza.

Israel shut its Kerem Shalom crossing following the shock October 7 Hamas onslaught, saying it would not directly facilitate aid into Gaza as long as terror groups inside continue to hold onto some 240 hostages taken from Israel that Saturday.

Satterfield says “the Israeli government has made very clear that it is not prepared to see that change,” indicating that the US is not pressuring Jerusalem to change its policy on the matter.

The US envoy adds that the emerging hostage deal, which would include a four-day ceasefire represents a “critical opportunity” to surge more aid into Gaza.

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