Official says pressure may rise from US over Gaza aid, but says Israel not to blame for hold-up

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

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid are seen near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid are seen near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on December 10, 2023 (Mohammed ABED / AFP)

A senior Israeli official briefing The Times of Israel acknowledges that Jerusalem may well face more pressure from the US in the future regarding the amount of humanitarian aid getting into Gaza.

Washington is pushing for aid to exceed the 200-plus trucks that were entering Gaza each day during a seven-day truce last month. The volume has lagged, with just 100 trucks entering Gaza yesterday, according to the UN.

But the slowdown is not due to Israel, which has been inspecting hundreds of trucks every day, the senior Israeli official asserts, arguing that assistance has been slowed due to Hamas efforts to steal it and block it from reaching civilians. Israel’s COGAT military liaison has also blamed the UN and Egypt for failing to keep up with the pace, adding that it has implemented tactical pauses and humanitarian corridors in order to securely deliver the aid.

International actors have rejected the charge, insisting that aid distribution is not sustainable in the midst of Israel’s ongoing bombing campaign in Gaza, which is now focused more on the south near where the aid is supposed to enter and be distributed to the over one million displaced Palestinians.

For their part, the Israeli official says the IDF’s latest assessment has not revealed a risk of an imminent epidemic in Gaza, even as the matter continues to be watched closely.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday, though, that there are “worrying signals of epidemic diseases” in Gaza amid the ongoing fighting.

Tedros told the WHO executive board that “ideal conditions” were being created for disease to spread in the enclave. “On average, there is one shower unit for every 700 people, and one toilet for every 150 people,” he said, pointing to heightened levels of bloody diarrhea, jaundice and respiratory infections.

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