Egypt, US presidents agree on entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza via Rafah border crossing

Ahram Online , Thursday 19 Oct 2023

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and US President Joe Biden have reached an agreement for the sustained entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing, according to a statement by the Egyptian Presidency.

Sisi, Biden
US president Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

 

The relevant authorities in both countries are coordinating with international humanitarian organizations under the supervision of the United Nations to ensure the delivery of aid, according to the statement.

The agreement has been reached during a call received by El-Sisi from Biden late on Wednesday.

During the call, they focused on the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and ways to facilitate urgent access to humanitarian aid in light of the need to improve the deteriorating humanitarian conditions as quickly as possible.

President Biden expressed his thanks and appreciation for Egypt's stance and President El-Sisi's role in this matter, said the statement.

Meanwhile, Biden stated in remarks to the press that El-Sisi has approved the opening of the Rafah crossing for the entry of around 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

El-Sisi "deserves some real credit" after agreeing to open the Rafah border crossing to allow humanitarian aid", Joe Biden added.

This process will require approximately 8 hours of coordination, possibly the aid will reach Gaza late Thursday or on Friday, Biden said.

Earlier, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has rejected as “unacceptable” any attempts to misrepresent Egypt’s position on Rafah border crossing, asserting that the crossing has never been officially closed by Egypt, but it isn’t functioning normally after being targeted by Israel four times.

“The crossing has been subject to 4 aerial bombings by the Israeli side and hence it's not functioning normally,” Shoukry said in an interview with BBC World Service on Tuesday, as life-saving aid provided to the war-torn Gaza Strip is still being held until an agreement on delivery to is reached.

In a separate interview with CNN on Tuesday, Shoukry stated that four Egyptian workers were injured due to the Israeli military's shelling of the Rafah border crossing.

Rafah has received around 3,000 tons of food and medical aid from various Egyptian NGOs and entities for delivery to Gaza. 

Additionally, Egypt has designed El-Arish airport to receive supplies from aid agencies and foreign governments to deliver them to Gaza via the Rafah crossing.

On Wednesday, volunteers from the Decent Life Foundation and the National Alliance for Civil Development Work (NACDW) staged a sit-in in front of the Rafah crossing to protest the relocation of Palestinians into Sinai and Israel's refusal to allow safe passage for humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The sit-in came in response to El-Sisi's call for protest during a press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz held at the Presidential Palace earlier on the same day.

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