Blinken hails ‘real, meaningful’ progress in getting aid into Gaza

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center left, and UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, 2nd right, at the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Kerem Shalom, May 1, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, center, walks with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, center left, and UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, 2nd right, at the Kerem Shalom border crossing in Kerem Shalom, May 1, 2024. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool Photo via AP)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that progress on improving humanitarian access to Gaza is “real and meaningful” but, given the immense need in the Palestinian enclave, it needs to be accelerated.

Blinken, who earlier met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tells reporters that Israel has made important compromises over a proposal for a deal that would see hostages released in exchange for a ceasefire, but it was up to Hamas to take that deal.

Blinken hailed the opening of the Erez crossing today as an important step to get aid directly to northern Gaza, saying it was “real, important progress.”

He says the improvement will be also judged on whether aid going in actually reaches those in need.

Blinken’s comments came after he toured the Kerem Shalom crossing and got his first up-close view of the Strip six months into the war.

Sacks of canned chickpeas, rice, potatoes and toilet paper, some marked with the logo of the UN’s World Food Programme or the World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid group sat on pallets waiting to enter Gaza. Tank fire could be heard in the background.

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