Israel opening of Erez 'insufficient' for Gaza needs: NGOs

Israel opening of Erez 'insufficient' for Gaza needs: NGOs
Israel announced on Friday that it would allow the “temporary” delivery of aid through the Erez land crossing and deliveries through Ashdod port.
4 min read
05 April, 2024
Erez is a crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip [GETTY]

Israel on Friday announced the temporary delivery of humanitarian aid through Ashdod and the Erez [Beit Hanoun] crossing for the first time since 7 October.

This comes hours after a heated discussion between US President Joe Biden and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Biden demanded that Israel alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and take steps to protect aid workers and civilians in the enclave, conditioning US support for Israel's war on Gaza on these actions.

Israel's Channel 13 alleged that a leaked transcript between British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Netanyahu's phone call on Thursday showed Sunak warning the Israeli Prime Minister that the UK would declare Israel in violation of international humanitarian law if there was no change in the entry of humanitarian aid into the strip.

In response, Netanyahu stated that Israel would increase the entry of humanitarian aid in the coming days.

Israel has faced Western backlash after an airstrike killed seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers in Gaza on Monday, bringing the total to 196 aid workers killed in the territory since 7 October, according to the United Nations.

Following the attack, aid ships have turned back, and WCK has had to suspend its aid at a time when half of Gaza's population are experiencing "catastrophic" hunger, with famine projected to affect the north of the territory by May unless there is urgent intervention

Aid groups from around the world told Reuters there is nothing more they can do to protect staff in the Gaza Strip and that it's up to Israel to avoid killing them as the United Nations appealed for direct humanitarian coordination with the Israeli military.

In light of the temporary opening of the Erez Crossing and Ashdod port, many top NGOs have shared their opinions:


"Gaza indeed needs more crossing points by land to reach people in need with much-needed aid," UNRWA's Director of Communications, Juliette Touma, told The New Arab, highlighting the call on Israeli authorities to reverse their decisions that bans UNRWA from reaching northern Gaza with food supplies.

"The clock is ticking fast towards famine and UNRWA must be allowed to do its work, and reach the north regularly with food and nutrition supplies," Touma added.

Save the Children

Karyn Beattie, Team Leader for Save the Children's Gaza Response in Rafah, told The New Arab that while the opening of the crossing is "definitely" a step in the right direction, there are concerns with areas in the north of Gaza, where the crossings are.

"I'm confused about how it's actually going to work and if it how the coordination with the Israeli forces will work because it's active conflict still in the north, and they haven't spoken about that yet," Beattie told The New Arab​​​​​​.

Beattie also says they've been requesting for both the Erez and Karni crossings to be opened so that aid can come in directly to the north, as opposed to through Rafah, where delays and checkpoints allow for the loss of some or sometimes all aid by the time it reaches the north of the enclave.

Beattie notes that Israel needs to increase the number of trucks coming in through Rafah, Karni, and the Karem Abu Salem crossing, which will also be available. She further claims that if all three of those crossings are open and facilitated, theoretically, that should make a difference, but there still needs to be a significantly higher number of trucks coming in, and at the moment, with the number that is led through the Rafah crossing, it could be much higher.

"Just because the crossings open, the best thing about it is that it's coming straight into the north, and the trucks won't need to travel through the Gaza Strip, but we still need to see how restrictive they are and how long it takes to get through those crossings."


"Israel's announced opening of Erez crossing and use of Ashdod Port for humanitarian aid are welcome but long overdue and insufficient steps to meet the immense needs of Palestinians in Gaza, who have been under siege and bombardment for six months," an Oxfam spokesperson told The New Arab.

"Given the scale of suffering across Gaza and that famine is imminent in the north, these routes must be operational as soon as possible, the process of allowing aid in must be speeded up and permanent," they added​​​​.

Oxfam notes that because the quickest and most effective way to get aid into Gaza is overland, all other crossings must be opened immediately, with full access for all humanitarian agencies.

"The expansion must not be used as a rationale for closing any of the current access routes. Above all, what the people of Gaza need is a permanent ceasefire to end the death and destruction," the spokesperson added.