Israel says it will allow increased Gaza aid deliveries through Erez border crossing

Authorities will temporarily reopen crossing in northern Gaza and port of Ashdod, as well as increase Jordanian aid at Kerem Shalom

The Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza has for years served as the only passenger terminal for people to move in and out of the Palestinian enclave. AFP
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Israel on Friday announced measures to increase the flow of aid into Gaza, including opening the Ashdod port and the Erez crossing into the enclave's north and boosting deliveries from Jordan.

The move came hours after a warning from US President Joe Biden.

“Temporary” aid deliveries will be allowed via Israel's border with the northern Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said on Friday, reopening the Erez crossing into the famine-threatened territory for the first time since the October 7 attacks that sparked the war.

The Israeli government also said it would allow its Ashdod port, about 40km north of Gaza, to be used to process aid shipments bound for the enclave.

“This increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis and is necessary to ensure the continuation of the fighting and to achieve the goals of the war,” it said.

The Erez crossing for years served as the only passenger terminal for people to move in and out of Gaza.

It was heavily damaged when Hamas militants stormed the facility as part of its deadly attacks against Israel on October 7, and the crossing has remained closed ever since.

Authorities will also allow “increased Jordanian aid through Kerem Shalom”, a border crossing in southern Israel.

The government did not elaborate on quantities or types of items to be let in, the AP reported.

The move comes as international pressure mounts on Israel after it took responsibility for a strike that killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers.

Charity boss Jose Andres says Israel targeted staff in Gaza

Charity boss Jose Andres says Israel targeted staff in Gaza

It also follows a tense conversation Mr Biden had with the Israeli Prime Minister earlier on Thursday.

The White House said that he “made clear” to Mr Netanyahu in a phone call that “US policy with respect to Gaza” will be determined based on “specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers”.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby shortly after the discussion between the two leaders told reporters that the US expected a “dramatic increase in the humanitarian assistance getting in” within “hours and days”.

More than 33,000 people in Gaza have been killed as a result of Israel's military operations on Hamas, according to health officials in the enclave.

The UN has warned that nearly half of the population in Gaza are facing “imminent” famine.

“We welcome the steps announced by the Israeli government tonight at the President’s request following his call with Prime Minister Netanyahu,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said.

She emphasised that these steps “must now be fully and rapidly” put into effect.

Ms Watson said the US will work with Israel, Jordan, Egypt and the UN to “ensure that these important steps are implemented and result in a significant increase in humanitarian assistance reaching civilians in dire need throughout Gaza over the coming days and weeks”.

Updated: April 05, 2024, 9:15 AM