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Israel To Open New Aid Routes Into Gaza

Israel has announced its approval for the opening of two humanitarian routes into Gaza, aimed at facilitating the entry of more aid into the region.

The Erez Gate in northern Gaza will be temporarily reopened for the first time since the onset of the conflict, and Ashdod Port will also be accessible for humanitarian deliveries.

Additionally, more aid from Jordan will be permitted to enter via the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

This decision follows discussions between US President Joe Biden and Israel’s Prime Minister, occurring for the first time since the tragic killing of seven aid workers.

During their phone call, President Biden emphasized the necessity for Israel to take measures to prevent civilian casualties and alleviate humanitarian suffering to sustain US support.

It’s been indicated that the reopening of these corridors was specifically requested by President Biden during the call.

President Biden effectively presented an ultimatum to the Israeli government, urging concrete actions to avert civilian harm, ensure the safety of aid workers, or face potential alterations in US policy concerning Gaza.

This marks a notable shift in US policy, representing the first instance where Washington has sought to utilize American aid as leverage to influence the conduct of the conflict in Gaza.

The tragic incident involving the killing of seven individuals associated with the food aid charity World Central Kitchen (WCK) in an Israeli strike on Gaza underscores the urgency of these measures.

The convoy they were part of was struck by an Israeli air attack while traveling along the Israeli-designated coastal aid route, shortly after unloading over 100 tonnes of food from a barge at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah.

In response to Israel’s announcement, the US National Security Council has expressed approval, emphasizing the importance of full and swift implementation of these measures.

US policy going forward will be contingent upon Israel’s efforts to safeguard innocent civilians and ensure the safety of aid workers.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also warned of a potential shift in US policy should Israel fail to demonstrate significant changes.

The decision to reopen the Erez border crossing between Israel and Gaza holds particular significance, especially following previous statements from Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, indicating a cessation of contact between the two entities.

In a separate development, former US President Donald Trump has urged Israel to swiftly conclude its actions in Gaza to achieve peace and halt further casualties.

Trump’s remarks come amidst growing international and domestic criticism of Israel’s actions in Gaza.

A prolonged queue of aid-laden trucks has accumulated on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border due to stringent Israeli checks, highlighting the challenges in humanitarian aid distribution.

The absence of adequate humanitarian supplies has necessitated airborne aid drops by Jordan, the US, and the UK, despite their limited effectiveness.

Such air drops have also posed risks, with incidents of casualties occurring due to failed parachutes and drownings in attempts to retrieve supplies from the sea.

Recent reports backed by the UN have underscored the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, suggesting a potential famine exacerbated by man-made causes.

Volker Türk, the UN’s top human rights official, has raised concerns about the use of starvation as a weapon of war in Gaza.

Israel has denied allegations of obstructing aid entry or distribution within Gaza, instead attributing issues to the failure of UN agencies on the ground.

The grim toll on aid workers in Gaza, with over 196 casualties recorded since October, underscores the perilous conditions they face.

Meanwhile, tensions with Iran have prompted Israel to take defensive measures, including blocking GPS signals and mobilizing reservists to bolster air defense units.

Iran has vowed retaliation following an alleged Israeli strike on its consulate building in Syria, which resulted in casualties including a senior general.

The ongoing military operations in Gaza, initiated following attacks by Hamas-led gunmen on southern Israel, have inflicted extensive devastation on the territory and led to a significant loss of life, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza.

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