Aid enters Gaza through Karm Abu Salem crossing for the first time since Gaza war

Ahram Online , AFP , Sunday 17 Dec 2023

A humanitarian aid convoy crossed into war-torn Gaza through the Israeli Karm Abu Salem border crossing on Sunday, the first since Israel approved the move, two Egyptian Red Crescent officials told AFP and Reuters.

The Karm Abu Salem crossing
File Photo: The Karm Abu Salem crossing with Israel in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. AFP

Seventy-nine trucks began entering on Sunday, according to Reuters and AFP.

Israel approved Friday the "temporary" delivery of much-needed aid to Gaza via its Karm Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing.

Despite causing a desperate humanitarian situation in Gaza, Israel, which has for two months waged a full-scale and bloody war against the strip, has only allowed aid to trickle in through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. 
The office of the Israeli Prime Minister stated earlier that the opening of the crossing would enable Israel to honour its commitment, per the hostage deal brokered in November, to allowing 200 aid trucks to enter Gaza per day. 

Due to Israel's agreement to allow inspected aid convoys to enter Gaza from the Karm Abou Salem border crossing, aid trucks are no longer required to return to Egypt to enter Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

Aid groups had called for aid convoys to enter Gaza directly, following inspection, without being forced to return to Egypt's Rafah border crossing. 

Egypt already began using the Karm Abu Salem border crossing on Tuesday, following an agreement with Israel, to speed up aid delivery to the Gaza Strip.

COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, said on Sunday that "beginning Sunday, UN aid trucks will undergo security checks and be transferred directly to Gaza via Karm Abu Salem."

The United Nations, in turn, welcomed the move.

“The fast implementation of this agreement will increase the flow of aid”, said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric, adding that “a humanitarian ceasefire will increase the distribution of that aid across Gaza even more.”

Nevertheless, Colonel Elad Goren, head of the civil department at COGAT, informed Reuters that humanitarian agencies had not scaled up their capacity to distribute aid to Gazans who followed Israeli advice to relocate to the southern part of the enclave.

Goren said, "If the UN cannot collect and distribute, it does not matter how many crossings we open. They cannot rely on the same mechanisms as before the war. We adjusted ourselves; unfortunately, the UN has not."

Juliette Touma, communications director of the UN Palestinian refugee agency, however, refuted these claims, stating on X that no aid can be delivered "under a sky full of airstrikes."

Before the 7 October Al-Aqsa flood operation, the Karm Abu Salem border admitted 60 percent of the goods entering the besieged Palestinian strip.

Located at the junction of the borders of Egypt, Israel, and Gaza, Karm Abu Salem offers a significantly faster alternative to the Rafah border Crossing since trucks will be allowed to enter immediately into the strip following inspection.  

Earlier on Sunday, the Al-Qahera News Channel website reported that six fuel trucks and another 40 carrying aid crossed Egypt's Rafah border Crossing into the Gaza Strip.

The website added that four injured Palestinians arrived in Rafah from the besieged strip to receive treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

The UN estimates 1.9 million people have been displaced, while aid groups fear the territory will soon be overwhelmed by starvation and disease.

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