Israel announces daily ‘tactical pause’ in fighting in southern Gaza to let humanitarian aid flow into the war-torn region

Israel today announced that it was implementing a daily ‘tactical pause’ in fighting in the Gaza Strip to allow humanitarian aid to flow into the war-torn enclave.

The IDF said in a statement that the ‘pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes will take place from 08:00 until 19:00 every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Salah al-Din Road and then northwards.’

Israel has long been criticised for its alleged refusal to allow aid to enter Gaza, leaving residents starving and destitute. 

In March, a UN-backed report claimed that the number of the number of people facing ‘catastrophic hunger’ across the whole of the besieged enclave was 1.1 million, about half the population.

 The assessment by the UN-backed initiative – a scale used by UN agencies, regional bodies and aid groups – came amid global pressure on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into the enclave of 2.3 million people.

The IDF said it was starting a daily pause of fighting 

The IDF said in a statement that the 'pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes will take place from 08:00 until 19:00 every day'

The IDF said in a statement that the ‘pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes will take place from 08:00 until 19:00 every day’

Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Sunday’s announcement was taken as part of efforts to ‘increase the volumes of humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip’ following discussions with the UN and other organisations, the IDF said. 

The World Health Organization has said more than 8,000 children under five have been treated for acute malnutrition in Gaza. 

From May 6 until June 6, the U.N. received an average of 68 trucks of aid a day, according to figures from the U.N. humanitarian office, known as OCHA. That was down from 168 a day in April and far below the 500 trucks a day that aid groups say are needed. 

World Food Programme deputy executive director Carl Skau said recently that ‘with lawlessness inside the Strip… and active conflict’, it has become ‘close to impossible to deliver the level of aid that meets the growing demands on the ground’. 

A spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli agency in charge of affairs in the Gaza Strip, said it was the UN’s fault that its cargo stacked up on the Gaza side of Kerem Shalom. 

He said the agencies have ‘fundamental logistical problems that they have not fixed,’ especially a lack of trucks.

Palestinians in Gaza City perform Eid al-Adha prayers in the historic 'Great Mosque of Omar'

Palestinians in Gaza City perform Eid al-Adha prayers in the historic ‘Great Mosque of Omar’

Displaced Palestinians wait to collect food donated by a charitable group in Khan Younis

Displaced Palestinians wait to collect food donated by a charitable group in Khan Younis

A Palestinian woman visits the grave of a relative killed in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas

A Palestinian woman visits the grave of a relative killed in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas

The UN denies such allegations. It says the fighting between Israel and Hamas often makes it too dangerous for U.N. trucks inside Gaza to travel to Kerem Shalom, which is right next to Israel’s border.

It also says the pace of deliveries has been slowed because the Israeli military must authorize drivers to travel to the site, a system Israel says was designed for the drivers’ safety. Due to a lack of security, aid trucks in some cases have also been looted by crowds as they moved along Gaza’s roads.

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

It was not immediately clear whether the army would provide security to protect the aid trucks as they moved along the highway. 

The pause along the southern route comes as Israel and Hamas are weighing the latest proposal for a cease-fire, a plan that was detailed by President Joe Biden in the administration’s most concentrated diplomatic push for a halt to the fighting and the release of hostages taken by the militant group. 

While Biden described the proposal as an Israeli one, Israel has not fully embraced it and Hamas has demanded changes that appear unacceptable to Israel.

Israel’s eight-month military offensive against the Hamas militant group, sparked by the group’s Oct. 7 attack, has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis, with the U.N. reporting widespread hunger and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine. 

The international community has urged Israel to do more to ease the crunch and has said the ongoing fighting, including in Rafah, has complicated aid deliveries throughout the war.

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