- Relief supplies have arrived in Egypt’s Sinai
- The US official said hopes for an opening had failed
- Humanitarian conditions in Gaza are deteriorating
ISMAILIYA, Egypt, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Egypt said on Monday that Israel was not cooperating with the delivery of aid into Gaza and the expulsion of foreign passport holders.
The Rafah crossing, a key opening for essential goods into the Israeli-besieged Palestinian territory, has not been officially closed, but Cairo says it has been rendered inoperable by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.
As Israel’s bombardment and blockade of Gaza intensify, the territory’s 2.3 million residents are without electricity, health and water services are pushed to the brink of collapse, and hospital generators are running low on fuel.
“There is an urgent need to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian citizens in Gaza,” Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters, adding that talks with Israel had been fruitless.
“Until now the Israeli government has not taken a position on opening the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side to allow aid and exit for citizens of third countries.”
US officials still believed Rafa would be in action for a few hours on Monday, with White House spokesman John Kirby noting earlier hopes had “diminished”.
Gazans have been under siege since Israel launched its most intense bombardment and siege on October 7 following a devastating cross-border attack by Islamist Hamas militants.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have moved into Gaza, some taking cars and suitcases south to the Rafah crossing, but others turning north after failing to seek refuge.
“On the way to the crossing they shelled Rafah Street and we started shouting,” said Hadeel Abu Dahoud, a resident near the crossing. “Nowhere in Gaza is safe.”
Fear of displacement
Like others, Egypt has spoken out against any mass evacuation of Gazans, reflecting deep-seated Arab fears that the latest war will trigger a new wave of permanent displacement of Palestinians from countries where they have sought to build a state.
Early on Monday, two Egyptian security sources told Reuters that a temporary ceasefire in southern Gaza could last several hours, agreeing to facilitate aid and evacuations in Rafah.
However, Egyptian state television later cited an unnamed, high-ranking source as saying that no ceasefire had been agreed. Hamas official Izzat El-Reshiq told Reuters that reports of an agreement to open the crossing were untrue, which Israel also denied.
On the ground in Rafah, a source said the Egyptian side of the crossing was ready. Shokri said Egypt aims to restore regular access through Rafah, including for Palestinians seeking medical treatment or normal travel.
Hundreds of tons of aid from NGOs and other countries were trucked in the nearby Egyptian town of Al-Arish awaiting conditions to enter Gaza, according to two sources and witnesses there.
“We are waiting for the green light for help to arrive, and dozens of volunteers are ready at any moment,” said a Red Cross official in North Sinai.
Separately, Reuters video showed UN-flagged fuel trucks leaving Gaza for Egypt through Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom.
The movement of goods and people through Rafah has been severely restricted under the Gaza blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007, and only registered travelers can cross.
Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in Cairo, Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia, Nidal Al Muqarabi in Gaza, Nadine Awadallah and Thala Ramadan in Dubai; Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis in Cairo; By Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Toby Chopra and Andrew Cawthorne
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