Blinken reiterates call to speed up aid delivery to Gaza

(Kerem Shalom) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday welcomed progress in delivering aid to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, but called on Israel to do more, after a visit to Kerem Shalom, aid crossing point from Israel.

At Kerem Shalom, Mr. Blinken could see a dozen trucks waiting to enter Gaza, as well as several Israeli tanks parked nearby, as Israel hammers out its intention to carry out a ground assault against Rafah, a town a few kilometers away. of Kerem Shalom, where there are around 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority displaced by the war.

“The progress is real, but given the immense needs in Gaza, it must be accelerated, it must be maintained,” Mr. Blinken told the press after also visiting the Israeli port of Ashdod, close to the Gaza Strip. , which Israel agreed to reopen in April to increase aid delivery.

The Secretary of State had already made the same observation the day before in Jordan, in almost similar terms, while the UN warned of an imminent famine in the Gaza Strip.

He expressed his concerns about the pace of aid delivery on Wednesday during a meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his advisers said.

Accompanied by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Mr. Blinken, near the entrance gate to the Gaza Strip, bristling with barbed wire, passed alongside around ten aid trucks being inspected by the army. Israeli before being able to enter the Palestinian territory, besieged and bombarded for almost seven months by Israel.

Two trucks with Egyptian license plates were loaded with bags of onions, others with bags of rice, pallets of canned beans, peas and oil.

Among the measures that Israel can implement to speed up the passage of aid, Mr. Blinken suggested on Wednesday: establish a list of goods whose entry will not be arbitrarily refused and issue more authorizations to drivers of enter Gaza.

Objective 500 trucks per day

Kerem Shalom was reopened in December after US pressure to get Israel to reverse its initial decision to block all aid to the Gaza Strip.

This crossing point is a symbol of American efforts to allow humanitarian aid to enter after October 7 into the Palestinian territory, largely razed by bombs and where the majority of the population has been displaced by fighting and the bombings.

Israeli officials have sought to show Mr. Blinken the progress they have made.

A spokesperson for Cogat, an organization under the Ministry of Defense responsible for Palestinian civil affairs, Shimon Freedman, told the Secretary of State that 98.5% of shipments entered without Israeli objections and that the objective was to allow the entry of 500 trucks per day.

On Tuesday, near Amman, Mr. Blinken witnessed the departure of the first aid convoy bound for Erez, a crossing point just reopened by Israel and allowing access to the north of the Gaza Strip.

This Israeli decline came after threats from President Joe Biden on American support for Israel, in the wake of the death of seven humanitarian workers from the World Central Kitchen organization, based in the United States, killed by an Israeli strike.

The Israeli government has regularly accused NGOs and the UN of not distributing aid quickly enough, but they have blamed the restrictions and inspections imposed by Israel.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Blinken visited Kibbutz Nir Oz, attacked and destroyed by Hamas on October 7. In particular, he saw the house of a family of five American citizens, the Kedem-Siman Tov, murdered that day.

The doors are blackened by the fire and debris from chairs are scattered in the garden.

The attack carried out on October 7 in southern Israel by Hamas commandos from Gaza resulted in the death of 1,170 people, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data.

The military operation carried out in retaliation by Israel in the Gaza Strip left 34,568 dead, mainly civilians, according to Hamas.


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