US envoy says maritime corridor will bring in 100 more trucks daily, admits Hamas has stolen aid

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

In addition to an insufficient number of trucks, there has also been a decrease in the number of aid organizations willing to distribute aid throughout Gaza following last week’s deadly IDF strike on a World Central Kitchen convoy. US Envoy David Satterfield says the WCK and the United Arab Emirates are conditioning their return to Gaza on Israel showing “in a concrete, demonstrable fashion that lessons have been learned, not just from the WCK tragedy, but from the period of time before that” when the US alleges roughly 200 aid workers were killed amid its repeated calls for Israel to improve its deconfliction mechanisms.

Israel established a new deconfliction hub between the IDF and aid groups days after the WCK strike, but international organizations are ostensibly looking for improvements to be demonstrated over a long period of time in addition to better assurances from Israel that aid workers will be protected.

The US is also working to have a maritime corridor up and running in the coming weeks, which will be able to bring in at least 100 trucks a day, Satterfield says. We’re going to get well over 500 trucks a day of commercial and humanitarian assistance. But we’ll still have to be able to distribute it efficiently.”

Asked whether Hamas has been siphoning off the aid coming into Gaza, Satterfield says the vast majority of assistance being distributed by the UN has reached civilians. He acknowledges that some of the aid may have reached Hamas. However, “Gaza’s population of 2.2 million are not… starving today because the bulk of the assistance delivered has gone to them, not to Hamas; and that’s the fundamental fact.”

Satterfield goes on to hail the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories for the work that the quasi-military body has done in facilitating aid into Gaza. “We could not do what we have been able to and could not have achieved the progress that we’ve seen without the engagement of COGAT… They took this on because they had to, and they have done an exceptional job under extremely challenging and difficult circumstances.”

The praise indicates that Washington’s frustration with Israel regarding aid is directed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the country’s political leadership.

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