‘Continuous and unhindered’ aid needed

Doaa El-Bey , Tuesday 31 Oct 2023

Egypt’s diplomatic quest to de-escalate the situation in Gaza and secure a ceasefire and hostage swap continue.

 Continuous and unhindered  aid needed
Continuous and unhindered aid needed


In a phone call earlier this week, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi highlighted to US President Joe Biden Egypt’s opposition to policies that collectively punish and displace the Palestinian people.

Egypt “has not and will never allow the displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egyptian territory,” read a statement issued by the Egyptian presidency.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared early this week that the “second stage” in the war against Hamas had started as ground forces entered Gaza. 

This week, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution calling for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce” between Israeli forces and Hamas.

Cairo wants to secure the entry of large quantities of humanitarian aid through Rafah and is blaming Israel for the delay in delivering urgently needed supplies.

“The process of delivering aid is facing logistic hurdles as Israel is imposing unnecessarily strict and slow inspection measures,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid told the media this week. 

Over the past week 80 trucks loaded with aid have passed through the Rafah crossing to Gaza. The UN estimates at least 100 trucks a day are needed to meet the minimum basic needs of the besieged population.

The Arish airport in North Sinai is being used to receive aid from international and regional parties.

Israel has cut access to food, water, power, and fuel supplies for 2.3 million Palestinians despite repeated warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The bombing of Gaza has left more than 8,000 dead and 20,000 wounded, the majority women and children. Israeli air strikes have destroyed more than half of Gazans’ homes, leaving more than 1.5 million Palestinians without shelter.

In a phone call with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Al-Sisi discussed joint efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to the Strip and the importance of the quick delivery of that aid as per the UNGA resolution. The same concerns were reiterated during a phone call between Al-Sisi and Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi. 

Egypt and Qatari mediations to release hostages continue. Netanyahu told the media this week that Israel is determined to bring back all the Israeli hostages and claimed the expanding ground operation “will help us in this mission”.

Hamas captured more than 200 Israelis on 7 October and says it will release them in return for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Last week Egyptian-Qatari mediation efforts led to the release of two Israeli women. A few days earlier, two American-Israeli citizens were released.

During a meeting in Cairo with David Satterfield, the newly appointed US special envoy for humanitarian issues in the Middle East, Shoukri called for “serious and coordinated” international action to reach an immediate humanitarian truce in Gaza.

He said the expansion of Israeli ground operations in Gaza has severe humanitarian and security implications that will compound “the cycle of violence and threaten security and peace in the region”.

In a meeting with his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib in Cairo, Shoukri highlighted the need to stop the war and protect civilians by building on discussions held during last week’s Cairo Summit for Peace. The diplomats agreed to work with the international community to revive the peace process and promote a two-state solution.

Shoukri also discussed the dangers of the Israeli expansion of military operations during phone calls with his Saudi and Jordanian counterparts Faisal bin Farhan and Ayman Al-Safadi.

In a phone call with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, Shoukri reiterated calls on the international community and UN bodies to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. 

Egypt joined other Arab states in issuing a joint statement condemning the escalation in Gaza, rejecting acts of violence and terrorism against civilians and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, and denouncing forced displacement and collective punishment.

Issued by the foreign ministers of Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco, the statement said any attempt to solve the Palestinian issue “at the expense of the Palestinian people or the people of the region, or by displacing the Palestinians” was a violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 2 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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