16 October 2023
Emergency aid for Gaza was being held up at a border crossing in Egypt Monday as Israel continued to launch air strikes into the Palestinian-ruled territory.
Egyptian officials said Israel has not cooperated in recent days with efforts to get large aid shipments into Gaza from a crossing in Rafah, Egypt.
On Friday, Israel began ordering Palestinians to leave Gaza City and surrounding areas in the north, telling them to head to the south. Israeli officials say the order was issued ahead of a planned military ground campaign against forces of Palestinian ruler Hamas.
Hamas militants have built major military bases in the north. Israel's expected ground offensive there is expected to center on killing Hamas leaders, recovering captives, and destroying the group's military equipment, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
More than a million people had already fled their homes in northern Gaza in preparation for a ground invasion.
Israel has continued to attack positions in Gaza after Hamas launched a major military operation into southern Israel on October 7. Israeli airstrikes have destroyed whole neighborhoods as Palestinian militants continued firing rockets into Israel.
Israeli officials say more than 1,400 Israelis – including many civilians – have died in the conflict. Health ministry officials in Gaza say at least 2,750 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 injured since the Hamas attacks began.
Israel controls the other two crossing points into Gaza. But it has declared a "complete siege" of the coastal Palestinian territory. This means Israel has cut off food, water, fuel and electricity supplies to the area.
Gaza has been under a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade ever since Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007. The blockade closely controls movements of goods and people into Gaza.
Mediators have pressed in recent days for a cease-fire that would permit the waiting aid to enter, as well as give foreigners a chance to leave Gaza.
The AP reported Egypt's foreign minister as saying Israel "has not taken a position to open the crossing from the Gaza side." The Israeli government did not immediately answer a request from AP for comment.
In Gaza, Palestinians crowded hospitals and schools Monday seeking shelter as food, water and medicine remained in short supply.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians sheltering in U.N. centers are getting less than 1 liter of water per day, the AP reported. Hospitals warned of operations nearing collapse because of power and fuel shortages.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it was concerned about disease spread linked to mass displacements and poor water quality. Four hospitals in northern Gaza are no longer operating and 21 had received Israeli orders to close. Many doctors have so far refused, saying it would mean death for critically ill patients and people receiving breathing assistance.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse reported this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the reports for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
siege – n. a military operation in which enemy forces surround an area and cut off necessary supplies
mediator –n. a person who works with opposing sides to reach an agreement or ease a dispute