Loaded with food, water and medicine, 102 trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza through Egypt’s Rafah crossing Thursday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, meeting a critical threshold that aid workers say is required to meet the battered Strip’s needs after 27 days of war.
The shipment marked the first time that over 100 trucks entered Gaza in a single day since Israel and Egypt shut the besieged enclave off to the outside world in response to the Hamas terror group’s rampage in southern Israel on October 7, in which some 1,400 people were killed and at least 247 more abducted.
The aid rolling into appeared to meet the initial benchmark set by the US for how many trucks it wants to see enter the Strip each day. Aid groups say the enclave needs at least 100 trucks a day, which is still a fifth of the aid it received before the war.
It also represented a large jump from the 55 trucks that entered Wednesday. In total, 374 trucks of aid have entered Gaza since October 21, when Israel first began allowing the tightly controlled shipments, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
The aid agency said the delivery included food, water, relief supplies, medicine, and medical equipment, but did not include fuel.
Israel says it painstakingly inspects the shipments before they are allowed to enter Gaza via Egypt, checking for weapons or other contraband that Hamas or other groups may be trying to smuggle in.
Jerusalem has so far resisted international pressure and blocked fuel from entering Gaza, maintaining that Hamas will try and divert it in order to power its tunnels and other military infrastructure.
Hospitals say the fuel is needed for generators that power life-saving machines; Israel says the Strip’s Hamas rulers are holding half a million liters of diesel.
On Thursday, IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi indicated that Israel would allow fuel into Gaza if hospitals run out, but the Prime Minister’s Office subsequently released a statement stressing that Benjamin Netanyahu has not approved any such transfer.
On Wednesday, the military released a recording of what it said was a Hamas commander forcing a hospital to hand over some fuel.
The aid ramp-up came as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was en route to Israel to discuss a potential pause in fighting to allow aid to reach its destination.
The World Health Organization said the lack of safety guarantees for bringing humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip was making it near impossible to get medical supplies to hospitals.
Getting medical supplies to where they are needed “has not been facilitated, that has not been supported; in fact, if anything, quite the opposite,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan.
According to The New York Times, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is open to a humanitarian pause to allow aid trucks safe passage.
Ahead of the visit, Blinken said that civilians have been “bear[ing] the brunt” of Israel’s military campaign targeting Hamas in Gaza and that he will be discussing “concrete steps” the IDF can take in order to protect civilians when he arrives in Israel.
“Israel has not only the right but the obligation to defend itself and also to take steps to try to make sure that this never happens again,” Blinken said on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews before boarding a plane for Israel.
“We’ve also said very clearly and repeatedly that how Israel does this matters,” he asserts. “We’ve seen in recent days Palestinian civilians continuing to bear the brunt of this action, and… We want to look at concrete steps that can be taken to better protect them.”
At the same time, the secretary acknowledged that Hamas is “quite literally” the reason why civilians have been caught in the crossfire due to its use of human shields and its placement of military sites underneath or inside hospitals, schools, and mosques.
War erupted on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists led by Hamas burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.
The vast majority of those killed as terrorists seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.
According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, and more than 22,000 people have been wounded. The figure, which could not be confirmed, would be without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Hamas has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll, and does not distinguish between civilians and terror operatives. Some of the dead are believed to be victims of Palestinian terrorists’ own misfired rockets.