Trucks transporting badly needed humanitarian aid to Gaza are stuck outside Israel’s border with Egypt, ahead of a planned ground offensive that has strangled the region’s access to fuel, medicine, food, and water.
The Rafah crossing, Gaza’s “lifeline” for international aid, has been closed for more than a week after Israel bombed the checkpoint, rendering the passageway inoperable, reported Reuters; Israel has continued to bomb the area.
Egypt has “been seeking to keep the crossing operational and in a way that allows the entry of humanitarian aid,” the country’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told ABC News on Monday.
“Until now, unfortunately, the Israeli government has not taken a position to allow the opening of the crossing from the Gaza side for the entry of aid or the exit of nationals of [other] countries,” he added.
More than 400,000 Palestinians in cities across the region’s south took shelter in hospitals and schools on Monday, reported the Associated Press. Israel has called on more than a million people to evacuate the enclave’s northern region for the south as Israel enters a new phase of its all-out assault on Hamas.
While Israeli airstrikes pounded the southern city of Khan Younis, Israel’s government denied reports that it had agreed to a ceasefire to permit the transport of humanitarian aid and safe passage of Palestinian refugees and foreign nationals to Egypt. “At the moment there is no ceasefire for humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip and the exit of foreigners,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Israel has distributed orders to evacuate residents along its northern border with Lebanon, preparing for an exchange of fire with Hezbollah after the militant group announced it targeted five positions in northern Israel.
At least 2,800 people have been killed in Palestine, with 10,850 wounded, according to a statement from the Gaza Government Press Office obtained by The New York Times, which noted that more than 60 percent of those killed were women and children.
The situation in Gaza’s hospitals is particularly dire, with an Israeli ground invasion on the horizon. “It’s absolutely impossible to evacuate the hospital,” Dr. Muhammad Abu Salima, the director of Gaza City’s largest medical complex told The New York Times. “There is nowhere in Gaza that can accept the number of patients in our intensive care unit or neonatal intensive care unit or even the operating rooms.”
On the other side of the conflict, more than 1,400 Israelis have died, the majority of whom were civilians killed during Hamas’s three-pronged surprise attack against Israel on October 7.
Israeli authorities reported on Monday that 199 hostages had been retrieved from Gaza and that the head of Hamas’s general intelligence had been assassinated during air raids in Khan Younis.