Pressure grows on Israel to open more aid routes into Gaza by land and sea as hunger spreads

Palestinians sit by their belonginsg after visiting their houses destroyed in the Israeli offensive on Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Wednesday, March 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman)

RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Efforts to get desperately needed humanitarian aid to war-wracked northern Gaza gained momentum Wednesday with the European Union increasing pressure for the creation of a sea route from Cyprus to Gaza and British Foreign Minister David Cameron saying that Israel’s allies were losing patience.

While aid groups say all of Gaza is mired in a humanitarian crisis, the situation in the largely isolated north stands out. Many of the estimated 300,000 people still living there have been reduced to eating animal fodder to survive. The U.N. says that one in six children under the age of 2 in the north suffers from acute malnutrition.


Amid the global pressure to alleviate the crisis, two Israeli officials said Wednesday the government will begin allowing aid to move directly from its territory into northern Gaza and will also cooperate with the creation of the sea route from Cyprus.

Israel would allow 20 to 30 aid trucks to enter northern Gaza from Israel on Friday, the start of more regular deliveries via that route, one of the officials said. It will also begin doing security checks Sunday on aid in Cyprus before it’s delivered via sea to Gaza, the official said. The ship will be part of a pilot project to test the feasibility of the sea route. The aid is UAE-funded and made possible with US involvement.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the upcoming shipments with the media.

Aid groups have said it has become nearly impossible to deliver supplies within most of Gaza because of the difficulty of coordinating with the Israeli military, the ongoing hostilities and the breakdown of public order. It is even more difficult to get aid to the north.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid have to drive from the Rafah crossing with Egypt or the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, both on the southern edge of Gaza, through the conflict zone to reach the largely cut-off areas in the north.

Last week, an attempt by the Israeli military to facilitate the movement of aid ended in tragedy when more than 100 Palestinians were fatally shot by Israeli forces or trampled to death in a melee.

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