As the Gaza Strip faces dwindling supplies and an overburdened medical system following a devastating hospital blast, Israel has announced its willingness to allow limited humanitarian aid from Egypt into the region.
The decision to ease the 10-day siege on Gaza came in the aftermath of a catastrophic explosion at Gaza City’s al-Ahli Hospital, which led to hundreds of casualties and put tremendous strain on the already struggling medical infrastructure in Gaza.
The blast, which occurred on Tuesday night, sparked outrage across the Middle East. As US President Joe Biden visited Israel in an attempt to prevent further escalation in the region, various claims regarding the cause of the explosion emerged.
Multiple conflicting accounts surround the explosion. While Hamas officials in Gaza swiftly attributed the incident to an Israeli airstrike, claiming that hundreds were killed, Israel vehemently denied involvement. Israel released a wealth of video, audio, and other evidence suggesting that the blast resulted from a rocket misfire by Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. Islamic Jihad, in turn, dismissed this assertion.
It’s important to note that none of these claims or evidence has been independently verified by the Associated Press.
Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza
The situation in Gaza had grown dire prior to the hospital blast. Israel had cut off all supplies to the region after a wave of violence that saw Hamas militants launch attacks in southern Israel on October 7.
The consequences of the blockade have been severe, with many families in Gaza reduced to one meal a day and forced to consume dirty water.
The tragedy at al-Ahli Hospital further exacerbated the effects of the siege. Shocking video footage from the scene revealed the hospital premises littered with the bodies of the wounded, including numerous young children. In the wake of the blast, hundreds of injured individuals were transported to another Gaza hospital. There, doctors, grappling with critical shortages of medical supplies, performed surgeries on the hospital’s floors, often without anesthesifa.
Humanitarian Aid on the Horizon
In light of the dire circumstances, US President Joe Biden stated that Egypt’s president had agreed to open the border crossing to Gaza and allow an initial group of 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to enter. Biden warned that if Hamas confiscates aid, it would put an end to the assistance. The aid convoy is expected to start moving on Friday at the earliest, according to White House officials.
However, it’s essential to address the need for road repairs on the Egyptian side of the border, which was damaged by Israeli airstrikes. Over 200 trucks and approximately 3,000 tons of aid are currently positioned near the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s sole connection to Egypt, as reported by Khalid Zayed, the head of the Red Crescent for North Sinai.