Egypt on Monday said Israel was not cooperating with the delivery of aid into Gaza and evacuations of foreign passport holders via the only entry, leaving hundreds of tonnes of supplies stuck.
Cairo said the Rafah crossing, a potentially vital opening for desperately needed supplies into the besieged Palestinian enclave, was not officially closed but inoperable due to Israeli air strikes on the Gaza side.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, told reporters that, “there is an urgent need to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” adding that talks with Israel had not been fruitful.
“Until now the Israeli government has not taken a position on opening the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side to allow the entrance of assistance and exit of citizens of third countries,” said Shoukry.
More than two million Gazans have been under siege since Israel launched an intense bombardment and blockade in retaliation for an assault by the Hamas Islamist militants.
Two Egyptian security sources had told Reuters a ceasefire in southern Gaza to last several hours had been agreed for Monday morning to facilitate aid and evacuations at Rafah.
However, Israel denied that.
“There is currently no truce and humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out,” a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
Hamas official, Izzat El-Reshiq, told Reuters the same.
On the ground at Rafah, one source said there had been no bombardments on Monday and that the Egyptian side of the crossing was ready.
Shoukry said Egypt aimed to allow normal flow through the crossing, including for Palestinians seeking medical treatment or normal travel.
Hundreds of tonnes of aid from NGOs and several countries were waiting on trucks in the nearby Egyptian town of Al-Arish for conditions to allow entry to Gaza, according to two sources there and a witness.
Separately, Reuter’s video showed UN-flagged fuel trucks appearing to leave Gaza for Egypt through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing.
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