Officials in Tel Aviv have denied requests from some Western nations to bring aid into Gaza through an Israeli crossing. Israel has allowed a small amount of aid to enter Gaza via Egypt. The aid making it into the besieged enclave is only a tiny portion of what is required to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.
Tel Aviv requires the trucks to pass inspection at the Israel-Egypt border before proceeding into Gaza through the Rafah crossing. In recent days, aid that flows into Gaza through Egypt has slowed because of a backup inside of Israel.
Western countries have asked Tel Aviv to allow aid to pass from Israel through the Kerem Shalom checkpoint. According to Haaretz, Tel Aviv has rejected the proposal because it does not want to take any responsibility for the Palestinians in Gaza who have been displaced by the Israeli military operations. “Israel opposes the idea,” the outlet reports. “Despite the pressure applied by the Western countries, Israeli sources say that Jerusalem objects because it wants to renounce any responsibility for civilian matters in the Gaza Strip.”
Haaretz explained that the Israeli refusal is creating some anger in Western countries. “If they’re going to check the goods at Kerem Shalom anyway, the most logical thing is to bring the goods in through there,” a Western diplomat told the Israeli outlet. “We understand Israel’s position, but there is an attempt to avert a humanitarian disaster in Gaza. If there are thousands more dead there, or heaven forbid an epidemic breaks out, the world will blame Israel. It’s in your interest to streamline the aid.”
After the Hamas attack in southern Israel on October 7, Israel imposed a complete siege of Gaza. The next day, Tel Aviv launched a massive military operation in Gaza that has decimated the small enclave’s infrastructure. A small number of aid trucks have entered Gaza, but aid groups have described the amount of aid as severely insufficient.
Since imposing the siege, Israel has not allowed any fuel into Gaza. On Tuesday, Axios reported speaking with Israeli and US officials who say some fuel will be allowed into the strip this week.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini explained the situation inside Gaza was becoming increasingly desperate. “We have heavily rationed the use of fuel and accessed pre-existing, limited amounts stored in a depot inside the Gaza Strip through close coordination with Israeli Authorities. The depot is now empty,” he added. “It is unbelievable that humanitarian agencies have to beg for fuel and operate on life support. Since the beginning of the war, fuel has been used as a weapon of war, and this should stop immediately.”
The Biden administration has tried to focus on the aid it is providing to Palestinians amid a flurry of criticisms for supporting the Israeli military operation in Gaza that has killed at least 4,600 children in just five weeks.