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First emergency convoy reaches Gaza after overnight Israeli air strikes

Published Oct 20, 2023 07:33PM ET Updated Oct 21, 2023 12:23PM ET
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8/8 © Reuters. Judith Tai Raanan and her daughter Natalie Shoshana Raanan, U.S. citizens who were taken as hostages by Palestinian Hamas militants, walk while holding hands with Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Gal Hirsch, Israel's Coordinator for the Captives and Missing, after they 2/8

By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Emily Rose

GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) -Twenty trucks carrying aid crossed into Gaza on Saturday, the first convoy of humanitarian supplies since Israel began a devastating siege 12 days ago and after further heavy Israeli bombardment overnight that killed dozens of Palestinians.

U.S. President Joe Biden had said earlier this week that agreement had been reached for the aid trucks to enter via southern Gaza Strip's Rafah border point with Egypt.

The flatbed trucks, flying white flags and honking their horns, exited the crossing after checks and headed into Gaza's southern area which includes the major towns of Rafah and Khan Younis where hundreds of thousands of people made homeless by Israel's unrelenting air war are sheltering.

However, Palestinian officials were disappointed that fuel supplies were not included in the consignment of food, water and medical supplies and added that the aid was only three percent of what used to get into Gaza before the crisis.

"Excluding the fuel from the humanitarian aid means the lives of patients and injured will remain at risk. Gaza hospitals are running out of the basic requirements to pursue medical interventions," the Gaza health ministry said.

Israel's "total siege" of Gaza, launched after the Oct. 7 cross-border attack on southern Israel by militants of the Islamist movement Hamas, has left the enclave's 2.3 million people running out of food, water, medicines and fuel.

The United Nations said the convoy included life-saving supplies would be received and distributed by the Palestinian Red Crescent, with the consent of Hamas, which rules Gaza.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the opening but echoed a warning from Israel that no aid should end up in Hamas hands.

"We urge all parties to keep the Rafah crossing open to enable the continued movement of aid that is imperative to the welfare of the people of Gaza," Blinken said in a statement.

"We have been clear: Hamas must not interfere with the provision of this life-saving assistance."

U.N. officials say at least 100 trucks daily are needed and that any aid operation must be sustainable at scale - a tall order now with Israel carrying out bombardments day and night that have wrecked entire populated districts.

Before the outbreak of conflict, an average of about 450 aid trucks were arriving daily in Gaza.

NO BREAKTHROUGH IN CAIRO

Diplomacy to secure a ceasefire has been fruitless so far.

Arab leaders at a hastily convened Cairo summit on Saturday condemned Israeli bombardment of Gaza as Europeans said civilians should be shielded, but with Israel and senior U.S. officials absent there was no agreement on containing the violence.

Israel had kept up air strikes on targets around Gaza in Saturday's early hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to "fight until victory" following the release of the first two hostages by Hamas.

Hamas on Friday freed Americans Judith Tai Raanan, 59, and her daughter Natalie, 17, who were among around 210 kidnapped in the assault on southern Israel by Hamas this month. Hamas said it acted in part "for humanitarian reasons" in response to Qatari mediation.

However, Hamas said on Saturday it would not discuss the fate of Israeli army captives until Israel ends its "aggression" on the Gaza Strip, one of the world's most densely populated places.

Hamas gunmen seized the hostages when they burst out of the blockaded enclave into Israel and killed 1,400 people, mainly civilians, in a shock rampage, the deadliest single attack on Israelis since the country's founding 75 years ago.

Gaza's Health Ministry said on Saturday Israel's air and missile strikes had killed at least 4,385 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, while over a million of the territory's people have been displaced.

Israel has amassed tanks and troops near the fenced border around the narrow coastal enclave for a planned ground invasion with the objective of annihilating Hamas, after several inconclusive wars dating to its seizure of power there in 2007.

Israeli troops have carried out live fire drills "in preparations for the next stage of war", footage released by the Israeli army on Saturday showed.

"SOME WAY TO GO"

Overnight, Israeli fighter jets struck a "large number of Hamas terror targets throughout" Gaza including command centres and combat positions inside multi-storey buildings, the military said in a statement.

Gaza's health ministry and Hamas media said Israeli aircraft had overnight targeted several family houses across Gaza, killing at least 50 people and injuring dozens.

Hamas said it fired rockets towards Israeli's biggest city Tel Aviv on Saturday in response to those deaths. The Israeli military reported a fresh salvo of rockets from Gaza against southern Israeli border communities before dawn.

A senior Israeli military official who declined to be named said Israel had killed "a few thousand" Hamas militants in the war. "It is not enough. We need to take more ... We are looking at a long campaign. They are already hurting, but there is still some way to go," he said.

He also said the air force had targeted some militants in their own homes, including overnight, and acknowledged that civilians living nearby might have been hurt.

'DROP IN THE OCEAN'

Most of Gaza's inhabitants depend on humanitarian aid. The heavily urbanised and widely impoverished territory has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the enclave in 2005.

Israel has told all civilians to evacuate the northern half of Gaza, which includes Gaza City. Many people have yet to leave saying they fear losing everything and have nowhere safe to go given that southern areas have also been bombarded.

Some said the aid arriving on Saturday was too little to make a difference.

"This is a drop in the ocean. You are trying to show the world that you are bringing aid. This is throwing dust in the eyes," said Nabil El-Dhaba, a resident of the Shejaia district in Gaza City who has been displaced to Deir Al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip.

First emergency convoy reaches Gaza after overnight Israeli air strikes
 

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Comments (5)
Barry Nickerson
Subbuilder Oct 22, 2023 6:48AM ET
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Why not leave the truckloads south of Gaza and have the people come to them.  Then they;ll know who they are assisting.  And since Iran seems to want to give Gaza weapons, why don't they, (pay for and ) ,send in the much needed fuel?
Alex Berezansky
Alex Berezansky Oct 21, 2023 11:45PM ET
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Providing humanitarian aid to horrible murderers of children, women and civilians is a crime against humanity.
thaer sabla
thaer sabla Oct 21, 2023 4:01PM ET
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They lied about 911, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Covid, Masks, Vax but they want u believe them about Palestine!
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Oct 21, 2023 4:01PM ET
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Russian misinformation intended to foment division among American people.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Oct 21, 2023 4:01PM ET
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who are 'they'..?
Johnny Crash
Johnny Crash Oct 21, 2023 2:52AM ET
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Good, get rid of the terrorists
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Oct 21, 2023 2:52AM ET
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if your home is bombed, and your children blown to bits, you will experience how 'good' that is.. 99% of gaza are not terrorists. this is collective punishment by israel, hence state-terrorism.
Jan Buyle
Jan Buyle Oct 21, 2023 2:52AM ET
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Between 2008 and 2020 250 israelli were killed by palestines. In the same period 5600 palestines were killed by israelli. That is more than 20 to 1. Now my question: do you agree that Israel is as much a terrorist as Hamas?
Nauman Naeem
Nauman Naeem Oct 21, 2023 2:52AM ET
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You should suffer the same fate as Palestine people and then we will say the same about you “good, get rid of the terrorist”
Barry Nickerson
Subbuilder Oct 21, 2023 2:52AM ET
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Jan Buyle In 2023, 1400+....
Peter Lost
Peter Lost Oct 21, 2023 2:52AM ET
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Jan Buyle that is the most moronic statement ive ever heard israel is the most careful country in the world regarding hurting civillians just tallying up the numbers doesnt mean anything who were the ppl being killed also israel supplies all of gaza with electricity and water free of charge bc hamas refuses to build infrastructure instead taking any supplies and turning it into weapons this isnt about israel against palestinians its about hamas who are a terrorist organization who kill torture and rape innocent israelis and let their own ppl rot and use them as human shields in war just so they can stay in power i truly feel for the Palestinians suffering a hard life under this terroist dictatorship and btw israel does too being that they allow Palestinian to come work in israel even though they are risking allowing some terrorist in and hurting their own civillians
Derick Lim
Derick Lim Oct 21, 2023 1:39AM ET
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Hamas are smart releasing the US hostages to prevent US using it as excuse to join the war.......
Loke Wing Kin
Loke Wing Kin Oct 21, 2023 1:39AM ET
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Hamas afraid of US ? Lol
Bhavin Shah
Bhavin Shah Oct 21, 2023 1:39AM ET
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not US..but you am I right 🤣
 
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