Israel to open Karm Abu Salem crossing following US pressure

Ahram Online , Friday 15 Dec 2023

Israel approved the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip through the Karm Abu Salem crossing, the Israeli prime minister’s office said on Friday.

Trucks resuming transit through the commercial crossing of Karm Abu Salem, in the southern Gaza Strip, AFP


This will be the first direct entry of aid entering from Israel into Gaza since 7 October.

Israel undertook this step during a visit by US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, who pressed officials to reopen the crossing.

Before the war, the Karm Abu Salem crossing, located in the southern corner of Gaza, at its border with Israel and Egypt, had been the primary commercial route for goods entering and exiting Gaza.

Israel has sealed off its commercial and pedestrian entry points into Gaza, compelling humanitarian aid to pass through Egypt's Rafah crossing.

This decision aims to expedite the aid delivery process, marking a shift from the previous route, where aid from Rafah in Egypt was inspected in Karem Salem before being returned to Rafah crossing for entry into Gaza.

This change in the delivery route of humanitarian aid to Gaza will also increase the amounts entering, as stipulated in the agreement with Hamas.  

As part of the deal to release Israeli captives, Israel agreed to allow the transfer of 200 truckloads per day of food and other aid from Egypt into Gaza.

Yet, Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza can only accommodate half that capacity under the current Israeli security checks.

Israel's cabinet said that this procedures is temporary and applies only to Egyptian humanitarian assistance bound for Gaza.

Sullivan described the move as "a significant step".

"President Biden raised this issue in recent phone calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu, and it was an important topic of discussion during my visit to Israel over the past two days," he said in a statement.

"The US remains committed to expanding and sustaining the flow of humanitarian assistance into Gaza," he added.

The long-awaited decision comes after Egypt announced on Tuesday that it had started using the Karm Abu Salem border crossing for processing aid into the strip under an agreement with Israel.

Since the start of the war, Egypt has called on the international community to pressure Israel to keep the Rafah border crossing to Gaza open permanently to deliver aid to the strip.

The Palestinian health ministry says nearly 19,000 people, mostly women and children have been killed in Israel's war on the strip, while 1.9 million people (80 percent of the population) have been internally displaced.

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