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Palestinian children wait in line with pots to collect food in Rafah, southern Gaza on May 19. Aid entering Gaza drops by two-thirds since Israel’s assault on Rafah. (Photo by Hani Alshaer/Anadolu/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

Aid entering Gaza drops by 67%

May 30, 2024

(CNN) — The amount of humanitarian aid entering Gaza has dropped by 67% since Israel launched a military offensive in the southern city of Rafah earlier this month, the United Nations has warned.

“The amount of food and other aid entering Gaza, already insufficient to meet the soaring needs, has further shrunk since May 7,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said Wednesday.

A daily average of 58 aid trucks reached Gaza between May 7 and Tuesday, down from an average of 176 aid trucks between April 1 and May 6, OCHA said, a drop of 67%.

About 500 trucks per day crossed into Gaza before hostilities between Israel and Hamas began in October, according to figures from the UN, which has long urged that deliveries return to this level.

The drop in aid deliveries came after Israel began its assault on Rafah in its attempt to destroy Hamas, which was believed to have regrouped in the south of Gaza after Israel’s destruction of much of the north.

Trucks carrying aid move through security inspections at the Kerem Shalom crossing in March. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

Since Israel seized control of the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing on May 7, aid has been blocked, with supplies piling up in Egypt and the Strip teetering close to famine.

A top Israeli security official this week warned that the war in Gaza could spill into next year, apparently dashing the possibility that the Rafah campaign could bring the offensive to an end.

In its ruling last week, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) said the humanitarian situation in Gaza could now be described as “disastrous” and ordered Israel to keep the Rafah crossing open for “unhindered provision at scale” of aid.

Israel and Egypt have blamed each other for the blockage.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz called on Egypt to reopen the crossing; his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry accused Katz of “distorting the facts,” saying that Israel’s offensive near the crossing – and the danger it poses to relief workers – was the reason Egypt is unable to bring aid into Gaza.

Rafah had previously been the central artery for aid to flow into Gaza – and, in November, for some injured Palestinians and foreign nationals to enter Egypt.

With Rafah now the epicentre of hostilities, aid has continued to trickle in from two other crossings: Kerem Shalom in the south and Erez in the north.

Kerem Shalom was reopened last week after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and US President Joe Biden agreed to send aid to the UN via the crossing on a temporary basis.

“This will help save lives,” Biden said, while efforts continue to reopen the Rafah crossing.

More than 370 aid trucks arrived at the crossing from Egypt on Monday, Israeli officials said.

More than 370 aid trucks arrived at the crossing from Egypt on Monday, Israeli officials said. (Photo by Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters via CNN Newsource)

But UNRWA, the main United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, said it had picked up only 30 trucks for distribution on the Gazan side of the crossing.

“While the Kerem Shalom crossing remains open in principle, it is extremely difficult for aid organizations to access from the Gaza side due to the hostilities,” OCHA said Tuesday.

Some Israelis have in recent months staged protests at the crossing, demanding that no aid enter Gaza until Hamas release all of the hostages.

In the north, some aid has been able to enter via the Erez crossing.

From May 1 to May 20, the World Food Program transferred 500 trucks, carrying 7,000 metric tons of aid, through the crossing. But only the western side of the crossing is open, with Erez East still closed.

Meanwhile, the temporary US-built pier to transport aid into Gaza, which cost $320 million and only began operating on May 17, broke apart Tuesday.

It will be removed from the Gaza coast and taken to the Israeli port of Ashdod for repairs, which will take more than a week.

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