Israel says it has reopened a main crossing into Gaza, but the United Nations says no aid has entered

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Wednesday it had reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza after days of closure, but the United Nations said no humanitarian aid had entered so far and there was no one to receive it on the Palestinian side after workers fled during the incursion. The Israeli military in the region.

The Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel was closed over the weekend after a Hamas rocket attack killed four Israeli soldiers near it, and on Tuesday, an Israeli tank brigade closed the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel. It seized the nearby Rafah crossing Between Gaza and Egypt, which led to its closure. The two facilities are the main gateways for food, medicine and other supplies necessary for the survival of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians.

The Israeli invasion does not appear to be the beginning of the comprehensive invasion of the city of Rafah that Israel has repeatedly promised. But aid officials warn that a prolonged closure of the two crossings could cause relief operations to collapse, worsening the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where the United Nations says more humanitarian aid is needed. “Total famine” Already underway in the north.

United States stopped A shipment of bombs Last week, Israel informed Israel of concerns that Israel is close to making a decision on launching a large-scale attack on Rafah, exacerbating divisions between the two close allies. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said he would not provide Israel with offensive weapons that it could use to launch a large-scale attack on Rafah.

In an interview with CNN, Biden said that the United States remains committed to defending Israel and will provide Israel with interceptor missiles and other defensive weapons, but if Israel goes to Rafah, “we will not provide it with weapons and artillery shells.” used, used.”

The United States says it is concerned about the fate of about 1.3 million Palestinians crammed into Rafah, most of them He fled the fighting elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the United States, Egypt, and Qatar are intensifying efforts to close the gaps Possible agreement For at least a temporary ceasefire and the release of some Israeli hostages still held by Hamas. Israel linked the threatened Rafah process to the fate of those negotiations. CIA Director William Burns, who is making shuttle tours in the region for talks on a ceasefire agreement, met on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations behind closed doors.

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With the seizure of Rafah, Israel now controls all of Gaza’s crossings for the first time since it withdrew its forces and settlers from the Strip nearly two decades ago, although it has maintained the blockade in cooperation with Egypt for most of that time. The Rafah crossing has been a vital conduit for humanitarian aid since the beginning of the war and is the only place people can enter and exit. Kerem Shalom is the main shipping station in Gaza.

The UN World Food Program’s deputy executive director, Karl Skau, told The Associated Press that the agency had lost access to its Gaza food warehouse in Rafah, which he said had been “contacted a no-go zone.”

“We realize it is still there, but we are very concerned about the looting,” Skau said during a visit to neighboring Lebanon, adding that a UN logistics warehouse in Rafah had already been looted. He added that the World Food Program was able to secure a warehouse in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, but it has not yet provided it with food supplies.

Associated Press journalists heard scattered explosions and gunfire in the Rafah crossing area overnight, including two large explosions early Wednesday. On Wednesday afternoon, hospital records showed that at least 25 people were injured after Israeli artillery shelled part of central Rafah, an area that Israel had not asked Palestinians to evacuate before the operation. The army had no immediate comment.

An Israeli military official said that Hamas fired unidentified projectiles at the Kerem Shalom crossing on Wednesday, confirming a previous claim by the armed group. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official announcement, said the attack would make it difficult to continue delivering aid, but the crossing would reopen on Thursday.

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The Israeli military body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs said the Kerem Shalom crossing was reopened early Wednesday, and posted a video of what it said were aid trucks entering the one-kilometre-long crossing area. The video then showed their cargo being unloaded. Normally, Palestinian drivers from the other side of the crossing must receive the aid after it is unloaded and transported to distribution destinations inside Gaza. The video did not show receiving aid.

Juliette Touma, director of communications at UNRWA, said that no aid had entered until late Wednesday afternoon, and that the UN agency had to ration the distribution of fuel, which is imported through the Rafah crossing.

Meanwhile, the Gaza Ministry of Health said that at least 46 sick and wounded people, who were scheduled to leave on Tuesday for medical treatment, were stranded.

UN agencies and relief organizations have intensified humanitarian aid in recent weeks after Israel lifted some restrictions and opened an additional crossing in the north under pressure from the United States, its closest ally.

But aid workers say closing the Rafah crossing, the only gateway for fuel for trucks and generators, could have serious repercussions, and the United Nations says northern Gaza is already in chaos. “Total famine.”

The World Food Programme’s Skau said some food had been delivered to the north in recent weeks.

“When we went up there, people were emerging from under the rubble in a very weak state, unable to even carry a food box,” he said, adding that an increase in infectious diseases among children could worsen the crisis in the north.

He added: “It is the combination of widespread disease and severe malnutrition that forms this deadly combination.”

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The Office for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories said that 60 aid trucks entered through the northern crossing on Tuesday. About 500 trucks entered Gaza daily before the war.

The war began when Hamas militants breached Israeli defenses on October 7 Nearby army bases and farming communities were overrunAs a result, about 1,200 people were killed, most of them civilians, and 250 others were kidnapped. Hamas is believed to still be holding about 100 hostages and the remains of more than thirty others, after most of the rest were released during a ceasefire reached in November.

The war has killed more than 34,800 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, and forced about 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians from their homes. It was the Israeli military campaign One of the bloodiest and most destructive in modern historyWhich led to turning large parts of Gaza into rubble.

Biden repeatedly warned Netanyahu against launching an invasion of Rafah. But Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners have threatened to bring down his government if he calls off the attack or makes too many concessions in ceasefire talks.

Historically, the United States has provided Israel with enormous amounts of military aid, which has accelerated since the beginning of the war.

The stalled shipment was supposed to consist of 1,800 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) bombs and 1,700 smaller bombs, with American concern focusing on how the larger bombs would be used in crowded urban areas, a U.S. official said Tuesday about the condition. Anonymity to discuss this sensitive matter. The official said that no final decision has been made yet on whether to go ahead with the shipment.

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Magdy reported from Cairo and Leidman from Tel Aviv, Israel. Associated Press journalists Amer Madhani and Zeke Miller in Washington, Karim Chehayeb in Beirut and Julia Frankel in Beirut contributed to this report.

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