Second convoy of Gaza aid remains on Egyptian side of border, security official says

Palestinian Red Crescent and UNRWA have yet to confirm arrival of second aid convoy

People on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing wave flags as a convoy of lorries carrying humanitarian aid crosses to the Gaza Strip. AFP
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A second convoy of 17 lorries carrying aid has not yet entered the Gaza strip from Egypt, an Egyptian security official told The National.

On Sunday, reports by Egyptian state-affiliated news outlets claimed that 17 lorries laden with essential aid entered Gaza, following a first round of twenty lorries that entered on Saturday.

AFP also said that the first batch of much-needed fuel had also entered the enclave on Sunday.

However, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the lorries seen entering the crossing were still on the Egyptian side of the border.

They will use an internal road and head to Al Awga crossing, an entry point from Egypt into Israel about 4km south of Rafah, and wait there until Israeli assurances are given to them to enter the enclave safely, he said.

Furthermore, no fuel has been approved for entry into Gaza, he said.

The first shipment of twenty lorries crossed into the bombarded enclave on Saturday amid concerns from humanitarian organisations that the amount of aid was not sufficient to meet the needs of Gaza’s 2.3-million populace who have been under an Israeli siege for two weeks.

The UN's Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, said that the aid was allowed to enter after "days of deep and intense negotiations with all relevant sides to make sure that aid operation into Gaza resumes as quickly as possible and with the right conditions."

"The people of Gaza have endured decades of suffering. The international community cannot continue to fail them," he said.

But UN officials stressed the volume of goods that entered was just 4 per cent of the daily average of imports into Gaza before the hostilities and a fraction of what was needed in the enclave, where most people are reliant on humanitarian aid.

So far, Israel has only publicly agreed to the entry of 20 lorry loads of aid through a US-brokered deal, which entered Gaza on Sunday and was received by aid workers with Unwra and the Palestinian Red Crescent inside the enclave.

Neither the Palestinian Red Crescent nor Unwra have confirmed the arrival of the second convoy of aid which allegedly crossed into Gaza on Sunday.

Additionally, the Palestinian health ministry spokesman issued a statement late on Sunday afternoon warning that delays in the delivery of fuel will constitute a "severe health and humanitarian catastrophe".

Following a deal brokered by US President Joe Biden while on a visit to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the Israelis said they would allow aid into Gaza provided it met a set of conditions; most importantly that it is given only to civilians and not militants and that it only contains food, water and medical supplies, but no fuel.

Food shipments constituted mostly essential items such as rice, pasta and flour in addition to some canned food, aid workers told The National.

Despite no assurances from the Israeli side, hundreds of aid lorries continued to arrive at the crossing from the nearby city of Al Arish, which houses thousands of tonnes of aid sent to Gaza by pro-Palestinian governments around the world and humanitarian organisations.

Israel's bombardment of Gaza entered its 15th day on Sunday. More than 4,700 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are civilians.

Updated: October 23, 2023, 10:04 AM