Israel-Hamas War: Latest Updates – The New York Times

A few days after Israel announced it it will reduce fighting along the key road In southern Gaza to get more aid to desperate Palestinian civilians, more than 1,000 trucks carrying supplies remain stuck in the border area. Aid officials and others say it is the result of the extreme chaos that has engulfed Gaza in the ninth month of Israel’s military campaign.

Aid officials said the threat of looting and attacks by armed gangs had forced aid groups to stop providing assistance in southern Gaza. The trucks used the bullet-riddled supply route. Businessmen sending commercial goods into the territory and aid agencies decided that they could not risk the lives of their employees by driving.

That means the Israeli military’s decision to pause fighting for hours each day along the aid route has so far borne fruit. meager humanitarian benefits. Officials say there are thousands of tons of food, medicine and other supplies stuck on the Gaza side of the border, just miles from Palestinians who need them.

This grim scenario is part of the domino effect of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, which has toppled much of the Hamas government without providing an operational plan or providing security for aid convoys. In much of Gaza, there are no police to contain the chaos, few city workers are cleaning up piles of rubble and trash and there are only minimal public services. Entering the vacuum has fueled the rapid rise of organized crime groups, whose links, if any – whether to Gazan tribes or armed groups like Hamas – remain unclear.

According to the United Nations and Israeli authorities, aid is being piled up at Kerem Shalom, an Israeli-controlled border crossing leading into southern Gaza. Since an Israeli military offensive on the southern city of Rafah closed another crossing last month, Kerem Shalom has been the only route for aid into southern Gaza.

Manhal Shaibar, who supervises a Palestinian trucking company working at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, said some goods were damaged by the heat on the Gazan side. Some commercial trucks were trying to escape under heavy security, he said, despite attacks by armed Gazans, but aid remained stuck.

“People in Gaza cannot find food,” Mr. Shaibar said. “But goods are scattered everywhere at this intersection.”

“It was a disaster,” he said.

Farhan Haq, a United Nations spokesman, told reporters Tuesday that Israel’s pause announcement “has not yet resulted in more aid for those in need.”

A truck carrying humanitarian aid moves into Gaza at the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Monday.Credit…Amir Levy/Getty Images

One person involved in the aid distribution effort said armed criminal gangs are operating with almost complete freedom in the Israel-Gaza border area, where trucks must pass and attack them daily. . The person described the attacks as coordinated and organized, rather than the spontaneous looting by desperate Gazan civilians that plagued aid convoys in the early months of the war. .

This person said armed attackers shot at the trucks, forcing them to stop, and sometimes beat the drivers before stripping the vehicles of their belongings.

And there’s no one to call for help: The Hamas-run police force that helped secure aid deliveries earlier in the war disbanded months ago after the Israeli army killed several officers. (The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was bound by confidentiality agreements.)

Mr Haq said the “lack of police or law enforcement in the area” had made the roads around the intersection extremely dangerous.

Aid officials say the number of international aid trucks reaching Palestinians in southern Gaza has dropped sharply since Israel’s Rafah offensive began on May 7. Only a small amount of aid has been delivered. shipped through Kerem Shalom, aid officials said, including what a Western aid official said was 30 truckloads sent through Jordan on Monday. Even the 1,100 trucks stuck at the border gate – equivalent to the number that entered Gaza just over two days before the war – represent a tiny fraction of what aid groups say is needed to stop the floods. hunger in Gaza.

Another border crossing, at Rafah on the Egypt-Gaza border, has remained closed since the Israeli operation began.

In an effort to make up for the shortfall, Israeli authorities began allowing more commercial goods into Gaza from Israel and the occupied West Bank. Unlike UN convoys, these trucks tend to travel with armed guards, allowing them to traverse dangerous terrain.

According to a US official working on the aid effort, Israel paused commercial deliveries for about two weeks to try to allow aid trucks to move through. But on Sunday, with no aid moving along that route because of insecurity, Israel continued to send commercial trucks, 20 of which went to Gaza, the official said.

American and Western aid officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Saed Abu al-Ouf, a Gazan businessman who has sent about three truckloads of rice into the area since mid-May, said he had halted shipments because of armed gangs. He said he previously paid thousands of dollars in protection money to a group of Gazans to ensure the safety of his truck.

Bags of rice sent by Saed Abu al-Ouf are waiting to be loaded onto trucks at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Monday.Credit…Ahikam Seri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

However, he said that currently it is simply too dangerous on the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom intersection. He was taking his latest truckload of goods toward Israel, hoping some order would be restored.

“There is no security or any government ruling in Gaza,” Mr. Abu al-Ouf said in a telephone interview from Cairo. “Armed people can take over your goods.”

“It is much more dangerous than before and we need a strong police apparatus to protect us. We are businessmen – we cannot play the role of police at the same time,” he said.

Aid groups say Israel must do more to open aid lines, and that measures it has announced throughout the war – such as a partial halt to fighting – have done little to help Gaza stop the war. stop famine.

They say only a ceasefire will help aid reach more people who need it. Meanwhile, Bushra Khalidi, senior head of policy at aid group Oxfam, said: “It is Israel’s responsibility to protect access and enable access, not just on the border but also inside Gaza”.

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