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13 Jul 2024 9:07
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  •   Home > News > International

    Israeli military announces 'tactical pauses' in southern Gaza fighting to boost aid flow

    The Israeli Defense Forces says it will hold daily tactical pauses in military activity in parts of southern Gaza to allow more aid to flow into the area, where international aid organisations have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis.


    The Israeli military says it will hold daily tactical pauses in military activity in parts of southern Gaza to allow more aid to flow into the area, where international aid organisations have warned of a growing humanitarian crisis among Palestinian civilians.

    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the pause would begin in the Rafah area at 8am local time (3pm AEST) and remain in effect until 7pm. It said similar pauses would take place every day until further notice.

    The pause is aimed at allowing aid trucks inside Gaza to reach the nearby Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid, and travel safely along the Salah a-Din highway to deliver supplies to other parts of the territory, the IDF said.

    It said the pause was being coordinated with the United Nations (UN) and international aid agencies.

    The Kerem Shalom crossing has suffered from a bottleneck on aid deliveries since Israeli ground troops moved into Rafah in early May.

    Israel's eight-month military offensive against the militant group Hamas following the group's October 7 terrorist attack has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with the UN reporting widespread hunger and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine.

    The international community has urged Israel to do more to ease the crisis.

    From May 6 until June 6, the UN received an average of 68 trucks of aid a day, according to figures from the body's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

    That was down from 168 a day in April, and far below the 500 trucks a day that aid groups say are needed.

    The flow of aid in southern Gaza declined just as the humanitarian need grew. More than 1 million Palestinians, many of whom had fled to Rafah after being displaced from their homes elsewhere in Gaza, fled the city after the IDF's invasion, crowding into other parts of southern and central Gaza.

    Most now languish in ramshackle tent camps, using trenches for toilets, with open sewage in the streets.

    COGAT, the Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, says there are no restrictions on the entry of trucks.

    It says more than 8,600 trucks of all kinds, both aid and commercial, entered Gaza from all crossings from May 2 to June 13, an average of 201 a day. But much of that aid has piled up at the crossings, and has not reached its final destination.

    A spokesman for COGAT, Shimon Freedman, said it was UN agencies' fault that their cargo was stacked up on the Gaza side of Kerem Shalom. He said the agencies have "fundamental logistical problems that they have not fixed," especially a lack of trucks.

    The UN denies such allegations. It says the fighting between Israel and Hamas often makes it too dangerous for UN trucks inside Gaza to travel to Kerem Shalom, which is right next to Israel's border.

    It also says the pace of deliveries has been slowed because the Israeli military must authorise drivers to travel to the site, a system Israel says was designed for the drivers' safety.

    Due to a lack of security, aid trucks in some cases have also been looted by crowds as they moved along Gaza's roads.

    The new arrangement aims to reduce the need for the coordination of deliveries by providing an 11-hour uninterrupted window each day for trucks to move in and out of the crossing.

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

    AP/ABC


    ABC




    © 2024 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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