New Delhi: Egypt has opened its border crossing with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to reach the besieged Palestinian enclave, which has been under heavy Israeli bombardment for the past week. The Rafah crossing, which is the only entry point for Gaza that is not controlled by Israel, has been closed for most of the time since 2007 when Hamas took over the territory.
On Saturday, Egypt allowed 20 trucks carrying food, medicine, and other supplies to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing, according to the Egyptian state news agency MENA. The aid was donated by various Egyptian institutions and civil society groups. Egypt also said it would send 65 ambulances to evacuate some of the wounded Palestinians from Gaza.
However, aid workers and officials said that the amount of aid that was allowed to enter Gaza was far from enough to meet the urgent needs of the population, which has been suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis even before the latest escalation of violence. According to the United Nations, more than 2,000 trucks carrying about 3,000 tonnes of aid have been waiting near the Rafah crossing for several days, but only a fraction of them have been permitted to cross.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that Gaza urgently needs fuel, water, sanitation, health and food items, as well as materials to repair the damaged infrastructure and homes. The Israeli airstrikes have killed more than 180 Palestinians, including 52 children, and injured more than 1,200 others in Gaza since Monday. They have also destroyed or damaged hundreds of buildings, including residential towers, schools, hospitals, and media offices.
The Israeli military said it has been targeting Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza in response to more than 2,900 rockets fired from the enclave toward Israel since Monday. The rockets have killed 10 people in Israel, including two children, and injured hundreds more. Israel has also deployed ground troops along the border with Gaza and has not ruled out a possible ground invasion.
Egypt has been trying to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but so far without success. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Saturday that his country was working hard to end the conflict and restore calm in the region. He also said that Egypt was ready to provide $500 million to help rebuild Gaza after the hostilities ended.