US President Joe Biden tells reporters aboard Air Force One on his way back from Israel that during his call with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the latter agreed to open up the Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza and to let “up to” 20 trucks of humanitarian assistance in.
“He agreed to… let up to 20 trucks through to begin with,” Biden says from Air Force One while returning from a visit to Israel, where he was showing solidarity after the October 7 Hamas shock massacre of mostly civilians.
Biden clarifies that people will not be able to evacuate Gaza through Rafah, apparently in order to assuage fears in Cairo that Egypt will be asked to take in refugees from Gaza.
The shipment would likely not cross until Friday as the road around the crossing needed repairs, Biden says. The US president says the UN would distribute the aid on the other side, and that a second tranche was possible depending on “how it goes.”
But he warns: “If Hamas confiscates it, doesn’t let it get through … then it’s going to end.”
Biden had been due to meet Sissi on Wednesday at a four-way summit in Jordan, but it was canceled after a deadly blast at a Gaza hospital that caused anger across the Arab world. The explosion was blamed on Israel which provided evidence it was not behind the explosion.
“The bottom line is that he [Sissi] deserves some real credit because he was very accommodating,” the US president adds.
The UN earlier today said that roughly 100 trucks of aid per day will be needed to rehabilitate Gaza following the Israeli counter-attacks.
Rafah has largely been closed since the war began on October 7.