After a week of strenuous discussions involving the United States, Israel, Egypt, and the United Nations, the Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza has finally opened, allowing 20 Egyptian trucks carrying medical supplies to cross. This comes after the gate was closed last week.
The Reopening Agreement
In accordance with the terms of the agreement, only twenty trucks carrying shipments from the Egyptian Red Crescent to the Palestinian Red Crescent organization will be permitted on Saturday. A UN official stated that it was not anticipated that UN vehicles would cross until Monday.
Critical Medical Supplies
The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated on social media that the medical supplies that are being brought into Gaza “include medicines for trauma and chronic disease, as well as basic essential medicines.” He demanded that humanitarian workers in Gaza be protected and that “sustained humanitarian access” be allowed.
Release of Hostages
After being held captive by Hamas for two weeks in Gaza, seventeen-year-old Natalie Raanan and her mother, Judith, are finally allowed to leave the territory under the protection of Israeli authorities.
Challenges and Scale
Twenty truckloads of goods are a negligible amount in comparison to the quantity of humanitarian aid that used to pass through the Rafah crossing before the current crisis broke out on October 7 with a massacre committed by Hamas against Israeli civilians. Aid officials have stated that the daily average used to be approximately 500 trucks per day.
Hope for Sustained Efforts
“I am confident that this delivery will be the start of a sustainable effort to provide essential supplies—including food, water, medicine, and fuel—to the people of Gaza in a safe, dependable, unconditional, and unimpeded manner,” said Martin Griffiths, the head of the United Nations’ Department of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief. In addition, he stated that he was “confident” that this delivery would be the beginning of a sustainable effort.
Since the beginning of the hostilities two weeks ago, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, which was already unstable, has deteriorated to a catastrophic level. It is essential that aid reach those in need across Gaza, no matter where they are located, and that it does so at the appropriate size.
In accordance with the current agreement with Israel, the planned convoys will not include fuel. This is despite the fact that fuel is essential for the operation of hospital generators as well as water pumps and desalination plants at a time when the water ration at United Nations shelters has dropped to one liter per person per day for all purposes, which is well below international standards for minimal consumption.
Delays and Border Opening
Egypt and the United States initially believed that they had reached an agreement with the Israeli government to open Rafah a week ago; however, Israel insisted on guarantees that the aid consignments would be thoroughly checked to ensure that they consisted only of food, water, and medical supplies and that arrangements would be in place inside Gaza for the aid to be distributed without Hamas involvement.
While the agreement was finalized during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, it took Egyptian personnel an additional three days to open the border into Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula. This was necessary because the crossing had been damaged by a bomb.
Reports from Agence France-Presse reveal that four ambulances, two trucks from the United Nations, and two vehicles from the Red Cross entered the border terminal area from the Gaza side. This was in violation of the agreement, which stated that hundreds of Palestinian-Americans currently residing in Gaza would be allowed to leave.