Israel says it is trying to ‘flood’ Gaza with aid

Israel’s military says it is trying to “flood” Gaza with aid as international pressure to address the territory’s humanitarian crisis grows.

Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said Israel would facilitate further aid convoys after a new land route opened up to deliver food to northern Gaza.

The UN has warned that Gaza, under Israeli attack since the war with Hamas began in October, is at risk of famine.

Brussels says starvation is being used as a weapon of war in the territory.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier that land routes had been deliberately closed off to prevent the delivery of aid.

The UN says “ongoing fighting and Israeli bombardment, as well as insecurity, frequent border closures and access constraints” have impeded safe and efficient aid operations.

On Wednesday, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Adm Hagari suggested more routes could open up.

“We are trying to flood the area… with humanitarian aid,” he told reporters.

The IDF announced earlier that six lorries carrying food had entered via the 96th gate in the Gaza border fence, near Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel, on Tuesday night.

Rear Adm Hagari said more convoys would follow as well as deliveries from other entry points, alongside drops by air and sea, adding that more needed to be done to make sure aid could be distributed fairly and efficiently.

He said the deliveries would not follow a routine, with Israel concerned about aid falling into the hands of Hamas.

“We are learning and improving and doing different changes so as not to create a routine but to create a diversity of ways that we can enter,” he said.

The war began when Hamas gunmen attacked southern Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and seizing 253 hostages.

More than 31,200 people have been killed in Gaza since then, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

The UN says at least 576,000 Palestinians in Gaza – one quarter of the population – are one step away from famine. It warns that the problem is particularly acute in the north, with agencies struggling to gain access for several months.

Gaza’s health ministry says 27 people, including 23 children, have died as a result of malnutrition and dehydration at hospitals in the territory.

Almost all of the limited aid that has reached northern Gaza has been delivered via the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom and the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossings, which are in southern Gaza, and then distributed by lorries.

On Wednesday, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) said Israeli forces had hit a food distribution centre in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, killing a member of staff and injuring 22 others.

Gaza’s health ministry said five were killed in an Israeli strike, while the IDF said a “precise strike” had killed a Hamas commander.

Efforts have recently been focused on delivering aid by air and sea.

A Spanish ship towing a barge loaded with 200 tonnes of food supplies is set to arrive in Gaza on Thursday morning.

That is expected to be followed up by a US military effort to build a temporary pier that will enable the distribution of up to two million meals a day.

But US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has said the Cyprus-Gaza corridor cannot be a substitute for getting more aid in by land – the “most critical way to get assistance in”.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with a military offensive in Rafah.

After weeks of talks involving US, Qatari and Egyptian mediators, a ceasefire or hostage exchange deal between Hamas and Israel looks no closer.

Source: BBC

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