UN and Morocco deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza via land routes through Israel

World Food Program convoy enters northern Strip on new military road; Moroccan food supplies arrive at Ben Gurion Airport before being given to Red Crescent at Kerem Shalom Crossing

A UN aid convoy seen along a new military road used by the IDF that stretches from the border near the southern community of Be’eri to the coast of the Strip, March 11, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)
A UN aid convoy seen along a new military road used by the IDF that stretches from the border near the southern community of Be’eri to the coast of the Strip, March 11, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The United Nations used a new land route on Tuesday to deliver food directly into northern Gaza for the first time in three weeks, as global pressure grew on Israel to allow more access to the coastal enclave amid warnings of a looming famine.

Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed that a convoy of six aid trucks entered the northern Gaza Strip through the new military road. The route, stretching from the border near the southern community of Be’eri to the coast of the Strip, is used by the Israel Defense Forces to carry out operations in northern and central Gaza.

COGAT said the trucks, carrying aid from the UN’s World Food Program, entered early Tuesday via a gate along the border fence, which opens to a new route “as part of an experimental pilot in order to prevent Hamas from taking over the aid.”

It said the aid was “thoroughly” inspected by Israeli authorities at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on the southern Gaza border, before entering via the Strip’s north.

COGAT added that the results of the trial run will be presented to Israel’s political echelon, which has ordered the move.

A spokesperson for the World Food Program, Shaza Moghraby, said the convoy delivered enough food for 25,000 people to Gaza City. It was WFP’s first delivery to the north since February 20 and “proves that moving food by road is possible.”

“We are hoping to scale up, we need access to be regular and consistent especially with people in northern Gaza on the brink of famine,” said Moghraby. “We need entry points directly to the north.”

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier Tuesday that the United States was working with Israel to increase the amount of aid “by ground both through Kerem Shalom and through a new crossing, where we had the first trucks get in last night and we need to see more where that came from.”

Also Tuesday, an Israeli diplomatic source said that Morocco sent 40 tons of humanitarian supplies for Gaza via Ben Gurion Airport, the latest bid to diversify aid routes into Gaza.

Rabat’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “Morocco is the first country to transport its humanitarian aid via this unprecedented land route.”

The aid was later transferred to the Palestinian Red Crescent at the Kerem Shalom Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, a Moroccan diplomatic source told AFP on condition of anonymity. An Israeli official confirmed the delivery, adding that it was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office as a Ramadan gesture to Rabat.

A UN aid convoy enters north Gaza via a new military road used by the IDF along the Gaza border, March 11, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Since Hamas launched its shock terror assault in southern Israel on October 7 and started a war in which Israel has vowed to destroy the Gaza-ruling terror group, aid trucks entering the Strip have generally done so via Egypt, although aid has also passed through Israel’s Kerem Shalom Crossing since it reopened in December.

The diplomatic source said Morocco’s ties with Israel, formalized in a US-brokered normalization pact in 2020 known as the Abraham Accords, helped the operation go ahead.

“Morocco has always said that its relationship with Israel is intended to serve peace in the region and the interests of the Palestinians,” the source said.

Moroccans hold placards and Palestinian flags during a protest in Rabat on December 24, 2023, in solidarity with Gaza amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

Israel has also agreed to expand the number of trucks entering Gaza from Jordan via the Allenby Crossing into the West Bank, the Israeli official said.

Also this week, Israel began transferring flour shipments from the US and Turkey that had been held up at the Ashdod port for roughly two months.

The United Nations and other international agencies have repeatedly warned of looming famine in Gaza, which has been facing a mounting humanitarian crisis since the war erupted with Hamas’s October 7 onslaught, which saw thousands of Palestinian terrorists burst into Israel, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping another 253, mostly civilians, amid horrific acts of brutality and sexual assault.

The various relief organizations have said humanitarian aid is slow to enter the Strip and slow to be distributed, particularly in northern Gaza, hampered by Israeli inspections, the location of crossings in the south of the Strip, and desperate Gazans, as well as looters, picking trucks clean before they can reach the north part of the enclave.

The aid that does enter the Strip is only a fraction of the supplies needed to sustain Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people, the UN has alleged.

A ship belonging to Spanish aid group Open Arms set sail from Cyprus on Tuesday carrying 200 tons of food aid for Gaza’s civilians in hopes of opening a maritime corridor to alleviate the dire humanitarian crisis.

The ship will dock along the coast of northern Gaza, south of Gaza city, at a landing jetty built by World Central Kitchen out of materials from destroyed buildings and rubble.

Also on Tuesday, four US Army vessels left the United States, carrying equipment to build a temporary port on Gaza’s shores for aid deliveries.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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