Aid to Gaza stalled after Egypt said Israel was not cooperating

ISMAILIYA, Egypt, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Egypt said on Monday that Israel was not cooperating with the delivery of aid into Gaza and the expulsion of foreign passport holders.

The Rafah crossing, a key opening for essential goods into the besieged Palestinian territory, is not officially closed, but Cairo says it is not operational because of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

“There is an urgent need to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian citizens in Gaza,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters, adding that talks with Israel had been fruitless.

“Until now the Israeli government has not taken a position on opening the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side to allow aid and exit for citizens of third countries.”

More than 2 million Gazans have been under siege since Israel launched a heavy bombardment and blockade in response to attacks by the Islamist militant group Hamas.

Two Egyptian security sources told Reuters an hours-long ceasefire in southern Gaza was agreed on Monday morning to facilitate aid and evacuations in Rafah.

But Israel has denied it.

“There is currently no ceasefire and no humanitarian aid in Gaza in return for the expulsion of foreigners,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.

Hamas official Izzat El-Reshiq told Reuters.

At the ground in Rafah, a source said there were no explosions on Monday and the Egyptian side of the crossing was ready. Shogri said Egypt aims to allow normal flow through the crossing, including for Palestinians seeking medical treatment or normal travel.

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Hundreds of tons of aid from NGOs and other countries were trucked in the nearby Egyptian town of Al-Arish awaiting conditions to enter Gaza, according to two sources and witnesses there.

Separately, Reuters video showed UN-flagged fuel trucks leaving Gaza for Egypt through Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom.

Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in Cairo, Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia, Nidal Al Muqarabi in Gaza, Nadine Awadallah and Thala Ramadan in Dubai; Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis in Cairo; By Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Toby Chopra and Andrew Cawthorne

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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