Second aid convoy enters Gaza as Israel steps up bombardments

A total of 17 trucks crossed from Egypt to Gaza as Israel intensifies its air raids on the besieged enclave.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs drive through the Rafah crossing from the Egyptian side, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Egypt October 21, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs drive through the Rafah crossing [File: Stringer/Reuters]

A second humanitarian convoy has crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip as Israel continues its non-stop bombardment of the besieged enclave, killing 55 people overnight.

A total of 17 trucks entered Gaza on Sunday, a day after the first convoy comprising 20 trucks carried medical aid, food and water into the area. The strip has been under intense Israeli bombing since October 7 in the wake of deadly Hamas attack that claimed the lives of more than 1,400 Israelis.

Reporting from Khan Younis in Gaza, journalist Hani Mahmoud told Al Jazeera that the trucks are said to contain mostly much-needed medical aid.

“Doctors are telling us that the aid is meant for hospitals in the Gaza Strip which are in dire need of medical supplies. No fuel has been reported on these trucks,” he said, adding that hospitals are very concerned about the lack of fuel.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Gaza, Thomas White of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said that the visuals of aid trucks on television which appear to look like fuel trucks do contain fuel that UNRWA is moving internally between depots.

“No fuel is coming into Gaza. Fuel is really critical now, we need it coming in to keep aid operations going,” he said.

Aid agencies are also warning that the delivery of supplies should remain consistent since it is currently “only a drop in the ocean”, and cannot cover the immense needs of Gaza’s 2.3 million people.

The humanitarian situation in the densely populated enclave is dire. There is not only a shortage of medical supplies, but food and drinking water are also scarce as Israel has cut off electricity, fuel and water supplies in the wake of the deadliest attacks in decades.

According to the UN, sanitation facilities, water wells, reservoirs and pumping stations have suffered damage due to the incessant air strikes.

The international agency estimates that about 100 trucks per day are needed to meet the needs of Gaza.

Cindy McCain, the executive director of the World Food Programme, told Al Jazeera: “We’ve got to get more trucks in.” She added that it is also important to ensure aid reaches the hands of the right beneficiaries, in a safe and sustained manner.

Bombardments continue

Meanwhile, aid deliveries have come as the Israeli military continued bombing Gaza and Rafah overnight.

Israel’s overnight air raids have killed at least 55 people and destroyed 30 homes in Gaza, according to local authorities.

After Rafah was bombed by the Israeli army on Saturday, journalist Isheba told Al Jazeera that the scene near the crossing was one of “humanitarian aid delivery under mass bombardment”.

The UN has stepped up its pressure on both Israel and Hamas and has begun calling for “a humanitarian ceasefire” to determine where aid can safely be delivered.

“What that means is very simple: We need to have clarity about places which will not be bombed or attacked by anyone – by either side,” UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Martin Griffiths told Al Jazeera.

“Typically, civilian infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and so forth are actually exempt from any attack in war, by the rules of war by international humanitarian law,” said Griffiths, without directly referencing reported Israeli strikes on hospitals and schools hosting displaced residents of Gaza.

The UN aid chief added that he wanted negotiations to yield a formalised “inspection regime” of aid delivered into Gaza – as has been established in other conflicts – as well as a mechanism for establishing an “up-to-date” picture of the needs of Gaza residents to better raise funding and deliver relief.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies