ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 139

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UN says 33 aid trucks with water, food, medical supplies entered Gaza Sunday

US official says Israel committed to allowing 100 aid trucks into Strip daily; OCHA warns ‘civil order’ starting to collapse in Hamas-controlled territory

A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid enters the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on October 21, 2023. (Eyad Baba/AFP)
A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid enters the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing on October 21, 2023. (Eyad Baba/AFP)

More than 30 aid trucks entered Gaza on Sunday, the largest convoy to the territory since deliveries began trickling in again over a week ago, the UN said.

A US government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Sunday that Israel was committed to allowing 100 aid trucks into Gaza daily — a figure the UN has said was needed to meet the most basic needs. Israel has not officially confirmed such an intention.

The United Nations humanitarian organization OCHA said 33 trucks carrying water, food and medical supplies had gone into Gaza on Sunday through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

“This is the largest delivery of humanitarian aid since 21 October, when limited deliveries resumed,” the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an update early Monday.

To date, it said, 117 trucks had entered Gaza through the crossing since limited deliveries resumed to the territory of over 2 million people, which is facing an Israeli offensive aimed at destroying Hamas’s military and governance capabilities. Israel has vowed to eliminate the entire terror group, which rules the Strip. It says it is targeting all areas where Hamas operates, while seeking to minimize civilian casualties.

Prior to the siege, some 500 trucks carrying aid and other goods would enter Gaza every day.

The war erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people and seizing over 240 hostages of all ages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed as gunmen seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says that Israel’s strikes have since then killed more than 8,000 people, half of them children. These figures cannot be independently verified. The numbers are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

Palestinians collect boxes and and bags from a UN-run aid supply center, distributing food to local Palestinians and people displaced in Gaza, in Deir al-Balah on October 28, 2023 (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

UN chief Antonio Guterres voiced alarm Sunday that the Israel Defense Forces was intensifying operations in Gaza, warning that “the world is witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Earlier, Guterres said he regretted that “instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations.”

“I urge all those with responsibility to step back from the brink,” Guterres added on a visit to Nepal’s capital Kathmandu.

OCHA welcomed the latest aid deliveries, but stressed that “a much larger volume of aid is needed on a regular basis to prevent further deterioration in the dire humanitarian situation, including civil unrest.”

“In particular, entry of fuel to operate medical equipment and water and sanitation facilities is urgently required.”

Of the 117 trucks allowed in so far, it said, 70 had carried medical supplies and 60 of them brought in food and nutritional items. Only 13 carried water and sanitation supplies, it said.

Also Sunday, Israel reopened the second of three pipelines via which it supplies water to Gaza.

Also Sunday, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor warned that blocking humanitarian aid from entering Gaza could constitute a crime.

“Impeding relief supplies as provided by the Geneva Conventions may constitute a crime within the court jurisdiction,” Karim Khan told reporters in Cairo.

He was speaking after a visit to Egypt’s Rafah crossing, where he said trucks full of desperately needed goods remained stuck and unable to cross into Gaza.

“I saw trucks full of goods, full of humanitarian assistance stuck where nobody needs them, stuck in Egypt, stuck at Rafah,” he said. “These supplies must get to the civilians of Gaza without delay.”

Rafah is the only entry point through which international aid is currently able to trickle into the Hamas-run territory.

Khan said he wanted “to underline clearly to Israel that there must be discernible efforts without further delay to make sure civilians [in Gaza] receive basic food, medicines.”

At the same time, the United Nations warned Sunday that “civil order” was starting to collapse in Gaza after thousands of people ransacked its food warehouses there, taking wheat, flour and other supplies.

United Nations and Red Crescent workers prepare aid for distribution to Palestinians at an UNRWA warehouse in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza Strip, on Monday, Oct. 23, 2023. (AP Photo/Hassan Eslaiah)

World leaders also jumped to stress the importance of managing the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

While Israel has the right to defend itself, it must do so “in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians,” US President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call, the White House said.

He spoke after his national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told CNN that Israel “should be taking every possible means available to them to distinguish between Hamas — terrorists, who are legitimate military targets — and civilians, who are not.”

Biden also spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, and the two leaders “committed to the significant acceleration and increase of assistance flowing into Gaza beginning today,” according to a readout from the White House.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron “stressed the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support” during a phone conversation. The two leaders “agreed to work together on efforts both to get crucial food, fuel, water and medicine to those who need it, and to get foreign nationals out,” said a Downing Street spokesperson.

On social media, Macron reiterated a call for a humanitarian truce.

“17 tons of humanitarian freight have arrived in Egypt from France. We are continuing our efforts by air and sea… alongside Egypt and the Red Crescent,” he said.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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