Israel announces daily military pause on highway to allow aid entry

The Israeli military says it will hold a daily “tactical pause in military activity” along a highway in southern Gaza to allow more humanitarian aid to come in.

The breaks, which reportedly began on Saturday, will last from 08:00 local time (05:00 GMT) to 19:00 local time until further notice.

They will only affect one route leading north from the key Kerem Shalom crossing, which Gaza shares with Israel.

Israel has been under continued pressure from its allies, including the United States, to prevent the humanitarian crisis in Gaza from worsening.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Sunday’s announcement follows “additional discussions related to the UN and international organizations.”

The route of the humanitarian pause runs from the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza to the Salah al-Din road – a main road – and then north to the European Hospital near the city of Khan Younis.

In a post on X, the IDF clarified that there is no ceasefire in the southern Gaza Strip and that fighting will continue in Rafah.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Rafah since Israeli troops entered it more than a month ago. Take control of the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing. with Egypt and ordering the evacuation of many people.

The crossing, once the main entry point for aid, has been closed since then.

Israel says its operation in Rafah is necessary to drive Hamas out of what it calls the group’s “last great stronghold.”

International agencies have warned of a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and have made repeated calls for more aid to be allowed in.

On Wednesday, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said a significant proportion of Gaza’s population was facing “catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions.”

The number of aid trucks entering Gaza remains far below what agencies have said is needed.

The UN humanitarian office, known as OCHA, reported that in May, the average daily number of trucks transporting humanitarian aid to Gaza – excluding fuel – was 97. In April that figure was 169 and in March it was 139.

Before the outbreak of war on October 7, around 500 trucks carrying aid (including fuel) entered Gaza each day.

OCHA notes that since May 7 it has not been able to directly observe the arrival of private sector aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

The IDF said Eight Israeli soldiers killed in Rafah explosion on Saturday, the deadliest incident for the military in the war since January.

It happened during an operation in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, which has been a key target for Israeli forces in recent weeks.

Hamas’s armed wing said it fired a rocket at an armored vehicle after setting up an ambush.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue the war against Hamas, urging Israelis not to let anyone “deviate” them from the “plain and simple fact: despite the high and shocking price, we must stick to the goals of war”.

“Elimination of Hamas’ government and military capabilities, return of all our hostages, guarantee that Gaza poses no threat to Israel, and safe return of our residents in both the north and south,” he said.

Aid agencies have repeatedly reported difficulties distributing aid in Gaza. The UN children’s agency Unicef ​​told the BBC on Friday that a convoy carrying aid was denied entry into northern Gaza, despite having all the necessary documents.

Unicef ​​spokesman James Elder, who was traveling with the convoy, said this had become common.

The IDF said the documentation had not been completed correctly and accused Elder of presenting a “one-sided picture” of the situation.

The war began after Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking another 251 back to Gaza as hostages.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 37,000 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the war and many hundreds of thousands more have been injured or displaced.

Negotiations over a possible ceasefire and hostage release agreement between Israel and Hamas continue, and the United States announced Saturday that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant will soon visit Washington for talks.

Earlier this week, Hamas Failed to Accept US-Backed Planformulating counterproposals on various points.

The plan – which the United States says is an Israeli proposal although Israel has not publicly endorsed it – would entail an “increase” in humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

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