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Israeli military announces daily tactical pause in southern Gaza to allow aid to arrive

Israeli military announces daily tactical pause in southern Gaza to allow aid to arrive
Israeli military announces daily tactical pause in southern Gaza to allow aid to arrive


JERUSALEM (AP) The Israeli military announced Sunday that it would suspend daytime fighting along a road in southern Gaza to clear a backlog of humanitarian aid deliveries to desperate Palestinians facing a humanitarian crisis triggered by the war, now in its ninth month. .

The tactical pause announced by the army, which applies to around 12 kilometers of road in the Rafah region, is far from leading to a complete ceasefire in the besieged territory, sought by the international community, including including Israeli leaders. ally, the United States. If this continues, the limited cessation of fighting could help address some of the overwhelming needs of the Palestinians, which have increased further in recent weeks with the Israeli incursion into Rafah.

The military said the break would begin at 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) and last until 7 p.m. (1600 GMT). He said breaks would take place every day until further notice.

The pause aims to allow aid trucks to reach the nearby Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid, and travel safely to the Salah highway. -Din, a main north-south road, the army said. The crossing has suffered a bottleneck since Israeli ground troops entered Rafah in early May.

COGAT, the Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, said the route would increase the flow of aid to other parts of Gaza, including Khan Younis, Muwasi and central Gaza. Hard-hit northern Gaza, which was one of the first targets of the war, is served by goods entering from a crossing point to the north.

The military said the pause came after discussions with the United Nations and international aid agencies.

Humanitarian agencies, including the United Nations, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The pause on the southern route comes as Israel and Hamas weigh the latest ceasefire proposal, a plan that was detailed by President Joe Biden as part of the administration's most concentrated diplomatic push for the cessation of the fighting and the release of the hostages taken. by the militant group. Although Biden described the proposal as Israeli, Israel has not fully embraced it and Hamas has demanded changes that appear unacceptable to Israel.

Israel's eight-month military offensive against the Hamas militant group, sparked by the group's October 7 attack, has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with the UN reporting widespread hunger and hundreds of thousands of people people on the verge of starvation. The international community has urged Israel to do more to ease the crisis and said ongoing fighting, including in Rafah, has complicated aid deliveries throughout the war.

From May 6 to June 6, the U.N. received an average of 68 trucks of aid per day, according to figures from the U.N. humanitarian office, known as OCHA. That's down from 168 trucks per day in April and well below the 500 trucks per day needed, according to humanitarian groups.

The flow of aid into southern Gaza has diminished just as humanitarian needs have increased. More than a million Palestinians, many of whom had already been displaced, fled Rafah after the invasion to gather in other parts of southern and central Gaza. Most now languish in dilapidated tent camps, using trenches as latrines, with open sewers in the streets.

COGAT says there are no restrictions on truck entry. It indicates that more than 8,600 trucks of all kinds, both humanitarian and commercial, entered Gaza from all crossing points between May 2 and June 13, an average of 201 per day. But much of this aid accumulated at crossing points and did not reach its final destination.

A COGAT spokesman, Shimon Freedman, said it was the UN's fault that its shipments were piling up on the Kerem Shalom side of Gaza. He said the agencies have fundamental logistical problems they haven't solved, including a lack of trucks.

The UN denies these allegations. He says fighting between Israel and Hamas often makes it too dangerous for U.N. trucks inside Gaza to travel to Kerem Shalom, which is right next to the Israeli border.

It also says the pace of deliveries has been slowed because the Israeli military must allow drivers to come to the site, a system that Israel says was designed for the safety of drivers. Due to the lack of security, aid trucks have also, in some cases, been looted by crowds while traveling on Gaza's roads.

The new arrangement aims to reduce the need to coordinate deliveries by providing an uninterrupted 11-hour window each day for trucks to enter and exit the crossing.

It was not immediately clear whether the army would provide security to protect the aid trucks as they moved along the highway.

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