A fuel truck entered the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing from Egypt on Wednesday, AFP reported, citing an Arabic news outlet. It is the first such delivery since the start of hostilities on Oct. 7.
It will be used to refuel aid trucks on the Gaza side of the border that “stopped operating for lack of fuel,” an Egyptian source said.
The Israel Defense Ministry’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit, which deals with Palestinian civilian affairs, confirmed in a tweet:
“UN trucks transporting humanitarian equipment from the Rafah crossing into the southern Gaza Strip will be refueled today (Wed) at the crossing. This follows a request from the United States administration and is being done in coordination with the relevant security authorities.”
A COGAT spokesperson clarified to JNS that “we would like to emphasize that this refers to U.N. trucks only, not to the refueling of tankers or fuel depots.”
The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem confirmed to JNS that U.N. trucks were scheduled to be refueled on Wednesday. “We’re talking about humanitarian aid trucks that were refueled at the Rafah border crossing,” PMO spokesman Eylon Levy said.
The U.N. claimed on Monday, as it has several times before, that without fuel for its trucks, its aid operations would “grind to a halt in the next 48 hours.”
The truck contained 24,000 liters (6,340 gallons) of fuel, Cairo News reported.
The move suggests that Israel has relaxed an earlier position that it would not allow fuel to enter the Gaza Strip until the terrorist organizations free the hostages. On Oct. 18, Israel’s government said, “Israel will not thwart humanitarian supplies from Egypt as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population [ital. added].”
But aid agencies and the U.S. have been pushing Israel to let fuel in.
On Oct. 30, the State Department said, “Fuel is essential to the delivery of humanitarian assistance, the desalinization of water and the provision of medical care, and we want to see it provided for those purposes as soon as possible.”
Israel has expressed concerns that fuel would be confiscated by Hamas for its war effort, noting a report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on Oct. 16 that “a group of people with trucks purporting to be from the Ministry of Health of the de facto authorities [i.e., Hamas] in Gaza removed fuel and medical equipment from the agency’s compound in Gaza City.”
The Israeli military also released an intercepted call between Hamas commanders in the Gaza Strip in which the terrorist group talked about transferring fuel from hospitals to its terrorist operatives.
Referring to Wednesday’s scheduled refueling, Levy said, “We will of course continue to take all necessary action to ensure that Hamas not exploit the international community’s goodwill in order to rearm and refuel its war machine against us.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel had offered to supply fuel to Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, which has said it has run out, but Hamas terrorists refused to let the medical center receive it.
Shifa Hospital has been the focus of world attention in recent days as Israel has closed in and surrounded it, culminating in a raid into the hospital on Wednesday. Israeli troops discovered weapons and “terror infrastructure” inside the hospital after killing terrorists outside the compound.
Israel said Hamas has located its “beating heart” underneath the hospital in the form of a sprawling command center.
The United States backed Israel’s claim on Tuesday, with National Security Council spokesman John Kirby referring to “a variety of intelligence methods of our own” confirming that Hamas has been using hospitals in Gaza, including Shifa, as command centers and ammunition storehouses.
On Oct. 29, Israel released interrogation footage of captured Hamas terrorists, who confirmed that the organization uses tunnels underneath Shifa to transfer weapons and explosives.
“Shifa is not small, it is a big place that can be used to hide things,” said one terrorist, explaining that Hamas uses hospitals because it knows that Israel won’t attack them. “Shifa is a safe place, it will not be struck. It is safe from them,” he said.