UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday welcomed Israel’s decision to reopen a crossing point with Gaza and appealed for support for UN efforts with Egypt to address the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.
Earlier Wednesday, Israel reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main goods crossing into the Gaza Strip, which had been closed since July 9 to everything but food and medical equipment, following weeks of violence along the border, including Palestinian arson attacks on southern Israel.
Guterres said in a statement that he was “encouraged to see those concerned have responded to calls to avoid the devastating impact of yet another conflict on the civilian population in and around Gaza.”
He called on “all parties” to support efforts led by UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egypt “to avoid an escalation and address all humanitarian issues in Gaza and the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.”
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said more than 400 truckloads of goods are expected to enter Gaza.
The opening came as speculation mounted over indirect negotiations mediated by Egypt and UN officials to reach a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas.
On Wednesday, a senior Israeli official indicated that the quiet along the Gaza border maintained for several days was reached as part of a ceasefire agreement with Hamas, brokered by Egypt and the UN, but said a long-term truce could not be inked until captive Israelis and soldiers’ remains were returned from the enclave.
The Israeli official credited the relative calm on the border to “the understandings advanced by the Egyptians and the UN,” without elaborating. Hamas last week said it reached a ceasefire with Israel brokered by Egypt and the United Nations to end the flareup in violence, though this was denied by Israel.
The official also credited “the tough action by the IDF, which will continue as needed,” for the calm.
Jerusalem has officially been mum on the indirect talks with Hamas, an Islamist terrorist group which seized control of the Strip in 2007 from the Palestinian Authority and seeks to destroy Israel.
The official said there would be “no real arrangement without the return of our sons and citizens, and a commitment for a long-term calm.”