Humanitarians want more aid for Gaza, access to hostages under Israel-Hamas truce. And more time

by Joshua Brown
Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Humanitarian organizations are advocating for increased assistance and extended access to hostages as part of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire in Gaza. They are prepared to distribute a substantial amount of food, water, and essential supplies to the war-stricken area, contingent on the ceasefire agreement taking effect as planned.

Although some regard the four-day truce as a significant initial step, there is a widespread consensus that this duration is insufficient to address the dire needs arising from seven weeks of conflict. This period of unrest has led to the displacement of countless Palestinians, who are now enduring severe hardships.

The exact logistics of enhancing aid delivery to civilians in desperate need, and the safe evacuation of the first group of Israeli hostages from Gaza, remain uncertain. These hostages have been detained since Hamas’ attack in Israel on October 7th.

A primary objective is to deliver aid to northern Gaza, a region that has seen a drastic reduction in hospital functionality due to the intense Israeli air and ground attacks.

Tommaso Della Longa, representing the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, emphasized their readiness to expand their operations once conditions permit. Since Hamas’ deadly assault in Israel on October 7th, resulting in numerous casualties, there has been an ongoing effort to facilitate aid entry into Gaza. The conflict has led to a significant number of fatalities in Gaza, as reported by health officials in the Hamas-dominated area.

Della Longa expressed frustration over the challenges in delivering adequate aid to Gaza, hoping for a truce agreement that would expedite these efforts. Currently, the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza serves as the sole entry point for international humanitarian aid. Supplies are flown into El-Arish, Egypt, and then transported to Gaza, but the intense scrutiny by Israeli authorities has hampered the speed of these deliveries.

Joel Weiler of Doctors of the World criticized the four-day ceasefire as grossly inadequate, pointing out the logistical difficulties in distributing aid within such a short timeframe, especially with the looming threat of renewed conflict.

The humanitarian community is advocating for the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main conduit for commercial goods into Gaza from Israel, which has been closed since the conflict’s inception. Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council emphasized the importance of this crossing to alleviate the logistical challenges.

Shani Sasson from COGAT, the Israeli military body overseeing Palestinian affairs, mentioned no current changes at the Nitzana crossing with Egypt to facilitate increased aid delivery during the truce. Nitzana is where Israeli authorities inspect aid trucks before allowing them into Gaza via Rafah.

Della Longa also highlighted the need for unhindered movement for humanitarian workers, stressing that simply opening a gate is not sufficient. Safe working conditions are essential for effective aid delivery.

During the four-day ceasefire, aid groups hope to reach previously inaccessible areas and populations, like those in northern Gaza. However, fuel shortages remain a significant challenge, as Israel has restricted fuel imports, with only minimal deliveries made to the main U.N. agency in the region. The limited timeframe and fuel availability severely restrict the reach of aid organizations.

Jason Lee of Save the Children emphasized the necessity of a complete ceasefire and the reopening of all crossings for food, fuel, and people to effectively address the needs in Gaza.

In the context of Israeli hostages in Gaza, a plan for the staggered release of 50 hostages, comprising women and children, by Hamas is in place. This exchange is part of a larger agreement involving the release of around 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. With approximately 240 Israelis captured during the October 7th raid and around 7,000 Palestinians detained by Israel, including 1,800 since the war’s onset, the International Committee of the Red Cross, known for facilitating hostage releases, has not received confirmation of any agreement to visit hostages during the truce.

The report includes contributions from DeBre in Jerusalem, and writers Melanie Lidman in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Israel-Hamas ceasefire

What are the main objectives of humanitarian organizations in the Israel-Hamas ceasefire?

The primary objectives are to deliver food, water, and essential supplies to Gaza, ensure the safe evacuation of Israeli hostages, and improve access to northern Gaza, which has been heavily impacted by the conflict.

Why is the four-day truce considered insufficient by humanitarian groups?

Humanitarian organizations believe that the four-day truce is not enough to address the extensive needs resulting from seven weeks of conflict. This short period poses significant challenges in distributing aid and reaching all affected areas.

What are the key challenges in delivering aid to Gaza?

Key challenges include logistical issues due to the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing, intense Israeli inspections of aid trucks, and fuel shortages. These factors hinder the efficient distribution of aid to the most affected areas.

How is the hostage situation being addressed in the truce agreement?

The truce agreement includes plans for the staggered release of 50 Israeli hostages by Hamas in exchange for about 150 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The International Committee of the Red Cross stands ready to facilitate these releases.

What is the role of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the ceasefire?

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies aims to scale up operations for aid distribution in Gaza once the ceasefire takes effect. They are focusing on addressing bottlenecks in aid delivery and ensuring safe working conditions for humanitarian workers.

More about Israel-Hamas ceasefire

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SeriousWriter123 November 23, 2023 - 2:21 am

ceasefire=good, but 4 days not enough for big problems. how aid get there?

InfoSeeker November 23, 2023 - 5:29 am

Useful article, check out more on Gaza conflict background.

PeaceAdvocate November 23, 2023 - 11:09 am

hostages released in stages, ICRC ready to help, hope for peace

JohnDoe November 23, 2023 - 12:07 pm

wow, intense situation in gaza, need more aid, truce not enuff

ConcernedCitizen November 23, 2023 - 11:20 pm

aid delivery hard, Kerem Shalom closed, inspections slow, fuel probs


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