Aid trucks begin entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom to bypass Rafah

Aid trucks begin entering Gaza through Kerem Shalom to bypass Rafah
Aid trucks are entering through the Karem Abu Salem crossing, but humanitarian groups say it could be too dangerous to access the aid.
3 min read
The aid coming through Karem Abu Salem is nowhere near enough to meet the Gaza's humanitarian needs [Getty]

Aid trucks entered Gaza from southern Israel on Sunday through a new agreement to bypass the Rafah crossing with Egypt after Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of it earlier this month. But was unclear if humanitarian groups would be able to access the aid because of ongoing fighting in the area.

Egypt refuses to reopen its side of the Rafah crossing until control of the Gaza side is handed back to Palestinians. It agreed to temporarily divert traffic through Israel's Karem Abu Salem crossing (Kerem Shalom), Gaza's main cargo terminal, after a call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

But that crossing has been largely inaccessible because of fighting linked to Israel's offensive in the nearby city of Rafah. Israel says it has allowed hundreds of trucks to enter, but United Nations agencies say it is usually too dangerous to retrieve the aid on the other side.

Israel's war on Gaza, now in its eighth month , has killed over 35,800 Palestinians, according to Gaza's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and fighters in its count. Around 80% of the population's 2.3 million people have fled their homes, severe hunger is widespread and U.N. officials say parts of the territory are experiencing famine.

Egypt's state-run Al-Qahera TV aired footage of what it said were trucks entering Gaza through Karem Abu Salem. Khaled Zayed, head of the Egyptian Red Crescent in the Sinai Peninsula, which handles the delivery of aid from the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, told The Associated Press that 200 aid trucks and four fuel trucks are scheduled to be sent to Karem Abu Salem on Sunday.

It was not immediately clear if the U.N. was able to retrieve the aid from the Gaza side.

Southern Gaza has been largely cut off from aid since Israel launched what it says is a limited incursion into Rafah on 6 May. Since then, over 1 million Palestinians have fled the city, with most having already been displaced from other parts of the besieged territory.

Northern Gaza, which has been largely isolated by Israeli troops for months and where the U.N.'s World Food Program says famine is already underway, is still receiving aid through two land routes that Israel opened in the face of worldwide outrage after Israeli strikes killed seven aid workers in April.

A few dozen trucks have also been entering Gaza daily through a U.S.-built floating pier, but its capacity remains far below the 150 trucks a day that officials had hoped for. Aid groups say the territory needs a total of 600 trucks a day to meet colossal humanitarian needs.