Israel has announced a ‘tactical standstill’ in the southern Gaza Strip to allow additional aid

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s military announced Sunday a daylong ceasefire along a route in southern Gaza. Humanitarian aid Deliveries to desperate Palestinians enduring a humanitarian crisis fueled by war, now in its ninth month.

The “tactical pause” announced by the military, which applies to about 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) of road in the Rafah area, falls far short of a complete ceasefire in the territory besieged by the international community. Including Israel’s main ally, the US. If it lasts, it could help limit some of the demands of the Palestinians, which have risen even higher with Israel’s incursion into Rafah in recent weeks.

The military said the suspension will be in effect from 8 am (0500 GMT) until 7 pm (1600 GMT). It said these suspensions will take place every day until further notice.

The suspension is aimed at allowing aid trucks to reach the nearby Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main gateway for incoming aid, and to safely travel to the Salah al-Din highway, the main north-south road, the army said. The crossing has been problematic since Israeli ground forces moved into Rafah in early May.

COGAT, the Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, said the route would increase the flow of aid to other parts of Gaza, including Khan Younis, Muwasi and central Gaza. Supplies are entering hard-hit northern Gaza, an early target of the war, at a crossroads in the north.

The military said the suspension came after discussions with the United Nations and international aid agencies.

Aid agencies, including the UN, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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The standoff on the southern route is Israel and Hamas Weighing in on the latest proposal for an armistice, a plan outlined by President Joe Biden in the administration’s most concentrated diplomatic push for a ceasefire and the release of hostages held by the militant group. Although Biden has described the plan as an Israeli plan, Israel has not fully embraced it and Hamas has demanded changes unacceptable to Israel.

Israel’s eight-month military offensive against the Hamas militant group, triggered by the group’s October 7 attack, has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with the UN reporting widespread starvation and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of starvation. The international community has urged Israel to do more to defuse the crisis Continue fightingAid deliveries have been complicated throughout the war, including in Rafah.

From May 6 to June 6, the UN received an average of 68 truckloads of aid per day, according to figures from the UN humanitarian office, OCHA. That was up from 168 a day in April and far short of the 500 trucks a day aid groups say they need.

Aid flows to southern Gaza have decreased as humanitarian needs have increased. More than 1 million Palestinians, many of whom have already been displaced. He fled Rafah after the invasion, gathering in other parts of southern and central Gaza. Most now languish in squat tent camps with open sewage on the streets, using ditches as latrines.

COGAT says there is no entry barrier for trucks. From May 2 to June 13, 8,600 trucks of all types, both aid and commercial, entered Gaza, an average of 201 per day. But much of that aid piled up at crossroads and never reached its final destination.

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Shimon Friedman, a spokesman for COGAT, said Kerem Shalom’s stockpiling of its cargo in the Gaza Strip was the UN’s fault. He said the agencies have “fundamental logistical problems that have not been fixed,” particularly a shortage of trucks.

The UN denies such allegations. It says Fighting between Israel and Hamas UN in Gaza It is very dangerous for trucks to go to Kerem Shalom, next to the border with Israel.

It also says deliveries have slowed because the Israeli military must authorize drivers to get to the site, a system Israel says is designed to protect drivers. Due to insecurity, aid trucks have in some cases been looted by mobs as they pass through Gaza’s roads.

The new arrangement aims to reduce the need to coordinate deliveries by providing an 11-hour uninterrupted window each day where trucks can move in and out of the crossing.

It was not immediately clear whether the army would provide security for aid trucks on the highway.

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