Israel on Wednesday said that it will allow humanitarian aid to enter the blockaded Gaza Strip from Egypt amid global pressure on Tel Aviv to ease its siege on the Palestinian territory that has been in place since October 9.
Israel made the announcement on a day when United States President Joe Biden visited the country in a bid to reassert Washington DC’s support while simultaneously trying to dial down tensions.
“In light of President Biden’s request, Israel will not prevent humanitarian assistance from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population located in the southern Gaza Strip or which is evacuating to there, and as long as these supplies do not reach Hamas,” a statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office read. “Any supplies that reach [Palestinian militant group] Hamas...will be prevented.”
Israel, however, said it would not allow humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip from its territory as long as its citizens held captive were not returned. “Israel demands Red Cross visits with our captives and is working to mobilise broad international support for this demand,” the prime minister’s office said.
Biden on Wednesday announced humanitarian assistance of $100 million (Rs 832.68 crore) for Gaza and the West Bank. He added that mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that the aid “reaches those in need – not Hamas or terrorist groups”.
In a social media post, the United States president also asserted: “The vast majority of Palestinians are not Hamas. Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.”
However, on Wednesday, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have called for “humanitarian pauses” to deliver lifesaving aid to people in Gaza. The resolution would have also condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.
The United States was the only country that voted against the resolution, while Russia and the United Kingdom abstained from voting. Twelve countries – Albania, Brazil, China, Ecuador, France, Gabon, Ghana, Japan, Malta, Mozambique, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates – voted in favour.
The United States argued that the text of the resolution did not do enough to emphasise Israel’s right to self-defence, according to Al Jazeera.
“We are on the ground doing the hard work of diplomacy,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said in an address to the Security Council. “We believe we need to let that diplomacy play out.”
On October 7, Hamas launched a multi-pronged attack on Israel. In response, Israel declared a siege on Gaza and launched a series of airstrikes. It also stopped water, fuel and power supplies to the region’s 2.3 million residents.
Israel has said that 1,400 of its citizens have been killed in attacks launched from Gaza, and 199 persons have been taken hostage. Palestinian authorities have said that over 3,400 persons have been killed and over 12,000 injured in Israeli air attacks on Gaza.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people died in a massive blast at the Al-Ahli al-Arabi Hospital in Gaza City. While the authorities in Gaza said that an Israeli air strike caused the explosion, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian authorities said that the explosion left at least 471 dead, and that rescue workers were still taking out bodies from the rubble, according to Al Jazeera.
The United States on Wednesday said its intelligence showed that Israel was not responsible for the attack on the hospital.
“While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.