Aid delivery waits to enter Gaza from Egypt at Rafah crossing

About 20 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies may be allowed to enter Gaza in the coming days.

Israel cut electricity, most water and stopped deliveries of food and medicine to Gaza following an attack by Hamas militants on 7 October.

Since then, Gaza’s 2.2 million residents have been rapidly running out of basic supplies.

But leading humanitarian organisations warn the aid delivery will only be a drop in the ocean.

“The UN has reported that a minimum of 100 trucks of humanitarian assistance are needed in order to support the millions of civilians living in Gaza”, Shaina Low of the Norwegian Refugee Council told the BBC.

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), told the BBC that before the war about 500 trucks a day would enter Gaza with aid, fuel and other commodities.

A composite photo shows Gaza with electricity in September, and present day without electricity

That sentiment was echoed by Juliette Touma, the UN body’s spokeswoman in Amman, who told the BBC that even before the war started 1.2 million people relied on food aid from UNRWA.

“Poverty is very, very high in the Gaza Strip. Already before the war the situation was desperate. Now it is becoming tragic,” she said.

The agreement to deliver a limited amount of aid via Egypt’s Rafah crossing was reached by US President Joe Biden and Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday.

Mr Biden called Mr al-Sisi following a brief visit to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Wednesday that Israel would “not thwart” supplies going from Egypt to the civilian population in southern Gaza.

However, his government only agreed to allow food, water and medical supplies – not other much-needed supplies like fuel.

A UN report on Gaza said that fuel is a necessity, and a lack of fuel is contributing to the water crisis, as desalination plants and water pumps can no longer operate.

Mr Lazzarini said that if fuel could not be delivered, many more trucks will be needed to carry in water.

More on Israel-Gaza war

The aid agreement offers a glimmer of hope for millions inside Gaza. Prior to these negotiations, it had been unclear how any aid would reach civilians.

Israel said it would not allow any aid to pass through its own territory until hostages being held by Hamas were released, and aid has been unable to cross the Rafah crossing through Egypt.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newshour, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that was because the crossing had been subject to four aerial bombardments, and that there had been no authorisation for the safe passage of lorries and trucks into Gaza.

“I would hope there would be a determination as to why the crossing is being bombarded and by whom it’s being bombarded”, he said.

The exact timeline on when aid will get to those who need it remains unclear. The road on the Rafah crossing requires repairs before any trucks are able enter.

But Mohsen Sarhan from the Egyptian Food Bank said time – as well as supplies – is running out. He said 120 lorries were ready to deliver aid and were waiting at the border for safe passage.

“We’re very angry because we know people over there have run out of water. They have even run out of body bags. They have run out of everything.”

A map shows lorries waiting at the Rafah crossing, October 19 2023

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