Better than nothing

Doaa El-Bey , Tuesday 5 Mar 2024

By airdropping food, Egypt hopes to ease the suffering of the population in Gaza, reports Doaa El-Bey

Better than nothing


Talks to establish a six-week ceasefire before the start of the holy month of Ramadan remain in limbo. The main point of disagreement, according to sources close to the negotiations, is that Tel Aviv wants a temporary truce to free hostages while Hamas is seeking assurances a permanent ceasefire will follow.

There were hopes of a breakthrough this week, said Mohamed Hegazi, a former deputy foreign minister. “There must be a quick alleviation of the humanitarian situation in Gaza. It cannot last any longer,” he added.

As Egypt continues to mediate between the Israelis and Hamas, it is also attempting to ease the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza by maintaining airdrops of humanitarian aid.

Airdropping started last week as Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, and France coordinated over supplies of assistance to Gaza. This week, Egypt’s Air Force dropped tons of urgent humanitarian aid supplies, mainly food and medicine, across the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians face famine amid restrictions on aid deliveries, say human rights groups.

While airdropping aid is better than nothing, quantities are small and it is a far less effective way of delivering the quantities of supplies that are desperately needed.

Tel Aviv has prevented truckloads of food from being delivered to Gaza, according to the World Food Programme which last week said it was suspending food deliveries to northern Gaza because of the “collapse of civil order”.

Since the start of war in Gaza Egypt has managed to deliver aid via the Rafah border crossing and the Israel-controlled Karm Abu Salem crossing. As of February, Egypt had provided 100,000 of the 130,000 tons of humanitarian aid delivered to Gaza, according to Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli. Over the same period, Israel delayed and blocked hundreds of trucks loaded with thousands of tons of aid at the Rafah crossing.

This week, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri made renewed calls for a ceasefire and immediate entry of humanitarian aid. “Any plan for the entry of aid must be implemented quickly,” he said during a press conference with his Dutch counterpart Hanke Bruins Slot.

Meanwhile, Gaza dominated talks at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ministerial meeting. In his address at the political consultative meeting between Egypt and the GCC in Riyadh this week, Shoukri said the crisis in Gaza had underlined the inability of the international community to end Israeli practices that seek to liquidate the Palestinian cause. He called for an immediate ceasefire and the end of Israel’s blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict so far, and more than 70,000 injured, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 7 March, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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