'Trucks everywhere you look': Aid lorries rush to get into Gaza during temporary truce

Most of the aid collected for Gaza has been stuck in the Egyptian city of Al Arish

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Vast amounts of aid for Gaza that had been stuck in Egypt has been loaded on to trucks that are aiming to enter the Gaza Strip during the four-day temporary truce, residents and officials told The National.

International aid agencies have been stockpiling supplies in the Egyptian city of Al Arish, 45 kilometres from the Rafah border crossing with Gaza, since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war on October 7.

Israel had only let limited amounts of aid into Gaza since the war began, but agreed to an increase as part of a four-day truce that began on Friday.

The UN confirmed that 139 trucks had taken aid into the enclave on Friday, its largest daily delivery since October 7. Separately, the Egyptian Red Crescent said 83 trucks had entered Gaza on the same day, while Egyptian authorities said 15 trucks entered with equipment for the Jordanian field hospital and another 11 for the Emirati field hospital.

The stream of aid continued on Saturday, with tens of trucks, including seven carrying fuel supplies, entering in the morning, an official stationed at the crossing told The National.

The aid that has made it into Gaza is a fraction of the total collected on the Egyptian border.

On Saturday, lorries laden with supplies for Gaza could be seen parked in almost every large garage in Al Arish and in long lines on the city’s streets.

The roads leading into North Sinai from other Egyptian provinces were similarly congested with long queues of aid lorries, which were also lined up in towns neighbouring Al Arish, including Sheikh Zuweid and Beir Al Abd, residents told The National.

“There are trucks everywhere you look. Inside the cities and outside the cities. There are long lines of trucks on most of the roads coming into North Sinai and some have piled up as far back as Ismailia,” one Sheikh Zuweid resident said.

Aid streams into Gaza as temporary truce holds

Aid streams into Gaza as temporary truce holds

Aid being sent to the city has risen since Wednesday in anticipation of the increase in deliveries due to the temporary truce. It has arrived by road inside Egypt and by air to Al Arish airport from around the world.

The city faced a severe storage crisis in October after the arrival of tens of thousands of tonnes of aid.

Because only small amounts of aid were being allowed into Gaza, the rest was stored in Al Arish’s football stadium, the city’s granary and several schools and sports courts.

However, deliveries increased from less than 20 trucks per day when humanitarian corridors first opened on October 21 to around 100 per day in the week or so before the truce was agreed.

Humanitarian organisations have said that Gaza needs at least 100 aid lorries daily to meet the basic needs of its 2.3 million people.

“When deliveries began to increase earlier this month, we started to unload some planeloads directly on to trucks and didn’t take them to storage,” a Red Crescent official said.

Though the city’s storage units are now almost half empty, most of that aid has not yet entered Gaza but remains on the backs of the hundreds of lorries parked all over North Sinai.

“The majority of the aid that has arrived in Egypt since the start of the war remains on the Egyptian side.

“The difference from the start of the war is that instead of being in storage, it has been loaded on to trucks hoping to make their deliveries during the four days that the Rafah crossing is open,” the official said.

The crossing, the only entry point into Gaza not directly controlled by Israel, also received 17 wounded Gazans on Friday who have since then been admitted to hospitals in North Sinai.

Updated: November 25, 2023, 11:37 AM