FM Katz updates allies on probe of aid convoy strike

‘Proof is in the results’: US cautiously welcomes Israeli moves on Gaza aid

Amid fresh humanitarian measures, 100 trucks to arrive at Kerem Shalom from Jordan, with crossing to stay open over Shabbat for first time during war

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the US-EU Trade and Technology Council in Leuven on April 5, 2024. (Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the US-EU Trade and Technology Council in Leuven on April 5, 2024. (Johanna Geron/POOL/AFP)

The United States welcomed Israel’s latest efforts to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday, while adding that success would be measured by the results in improving the situation on the ground.

“Really the proof is in the results, and we will see those unfold in the coming days, in the coming weeks,” Blinken said, speaking alongside European Union leaders in Belgium.

In a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US President Joe Biden threatened on Thursday to condition support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza on it taking concrete steps to protect aid workers and civilians, seeking for the first time to leverage US aid to influence Israeli military behavior.

It was the first conversation between the two since an Israeli strike in central Gaza late on Monday killed seven aid workers from the World Central Kitchen. Israel has called the strike on the WCK convoy a “grave mistake” and vowed an in-depth investigation into how it occurred. But Netanyahu also said that “these things happen in war” — a line that wasn’t well received internationally.

Asked about Israel’s action after Biden’s shift in position, Blinken told journalists Washington will be “closely looking” at specific metrics such as the number of trucks making their way into the Gaza Strip and the evolution of famine risks.

He also said Israel needed to make sure the population is protected from its strikes by “maximizing every effort to protect civilians,” adding: “We just can’t have so many people caught in the crossfire killed [or] injured going forward.”

File: View of the Erez Crossing at the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, January 4, 2024. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Following Netanyahu’s tense conversation with the US president, the security cabinet decided to temporarily open up Ashdod Port for humanitarian deliveries and will open Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip for the first time since it was significantly damaged during the Hamas-led October 7 terror onslaught that sparked the ongoing war, when many Israelis were killed and abducted there.

Israel will also increase the amount of aid from Jordan moving through the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza

Already on Friday, one hundred aid trucks from Jordan were set to drive through the Allenby Crossing to Kerem Shalom Friday, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel, marking the first time the Gaza border crossing will be open over Shabbat since the war started.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Israel Katz spoke overnight with his counterparts in the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Poland, and Japan to update them on the Israel Defense Forces probe into the deadly strike on the World Central Kitchen convoy.

There had been reports that the UAE has suspended diplomatic ties with Israel this week, which Israeli sources denied as “fake news.”

Armed and masked Palestinians seen on trucks loaded with International Humanitarian Aid entering Gaza through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 3, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Katz also told them about Israeli plans to increase the aid going into Gaza, The Times of Israel has learned.

During the security cabinet meeting Thursday night, Katz opposed the use of Ashdod Port to bring in aid, arguing that it would place responsibility for getting aid into Gaza back onto Israel.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir was also unhappy about the measures, hitting out at Netanyahu, saying ministers did not vote on the matter and calling a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office “incorrect.” The statement from Netanyahu’s office said the cabinet authorized the premier and other members of the war cabinet to take the steps, but not that a vote was held.

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