Israeli military says opening new aid routes into Gaza

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 9:46 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s military said it had opened a new entry point for aid to enter Gaza and was allowing unlimited supplies into the enclave, after a U.N.-backed report said there was an imminent risk of famine in the north and that it would spread.

After closing off access to Gaza following the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 that set off the war, Israel has since allowed in aid convoys amid growing international pressure to boost the amount of supplies to feed Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

“As much as we know, by our analysis, there is no starvation in Gaza. There is a sufficient amount of food entering Gaza every day,” Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of Israel’s Coordination and Liasion Administration for Gaza, told reporters at Gate 96, a new entry point for delivering supplies to the northern area.

A convoy of seven trucks entered through Gate 96 on Thursday, which he said was the third time the route was used.

The plight of Gaza’s population after nearly six months of war has aroused growing international concern and anger.

“We are doing everything that we can to enlarge the capacity of humanitarian aid going into Gaza,” Tetro said, blaming “bottlenecks” on international aid groups which he said lacked capacity to distribute supplies inside Gaza, where fighting has left a trail of destruction.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Israel during his sixth trip to the Middle East since the war started, said he would push Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take urgent steps to allow in more aid.

The U.S. has joined other nations in using air drops to get aid into Gaza and has said it would build a pier so aid could also be delivered by sea. Aid agencies say that, though welcome, such routes are no substitute for bring aid by truck on land.

Aid convoys, which are driven by Palestinian drivers, are cleared by the military at the southern cross point of Kerem Shalom and drive up on the Israeli side of the Gaza security fence to Gate 96 where they enter Gaza and turn north.

(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie)