Egypt to allow first aid trucks into Gaza

October 19, 2023

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has agreed to open the Rafah border crossing to allow aid trucks to move into Gaza.

That announcement came Thursday morning, after President Biden said during his visit to Israel Wednesday that he had secured an agreement with Israel’s cabinet for the “delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza” who are running out of supplies amid the Israel-Hamas war that was sparked on October 7 by a surprise Hamas attack on Israel.

In the days immediately following Hamas’ strike, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas and a “complete seige” of Gaza, cutting off electricity, food, fuel and water in the territory.

Up to 20 trucks from an aid convoy have been waiting for days at the Rafah crossing, Egypt’s only established entryway into Gaza. According to Biden, roads that have been damaged from Israeli airstrikes will have to be repaired before the trucks can travel.

“We want to get as many of the trucks out as possible” Biden said. “There’s, I guess, 150 or something there. Not all of them will go the first tranche. If there’s a second tranche—see how it goes.”

The decision to open the Rafah crossing followed several days of “blunt negotiation,” according to Biden, because Egypt said it would not allow refugees to flood its territory. 

The crossing is expected to only be open only for aid to get through, not to evacuate people, which leaves some 2.2 million Palestinians without a path out of Gaza, including foreign nationals and dual citizens.

In a statement Wednesday from Netanyahu’s office, Israel agreed not to block humanitarian aid going from Egypt into Gaza.

Biden also warned on Wednesday, “Let me be clear, if Hamas diverts the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” and as a practical matter, such an act  would “stop the international community for being able to provide this aid.”

Supplies will be transported into Gaza under supervision of the United Nations, according to Egyptian authorities.

PHOTO: U.N. World Food Program truck headed toward Rafah border crossing

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