The humanitarian assistance being provided to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip provides Israel with “important leeway in which to act to realize the goals of the war,” the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday night.
The aid coming into Gaza, comprising food and medicines, is from international sources and undergoes physical inspection by Israeli security personnel before being delivered via Egypt, according to the statement.
The PMO emphasized that the aid is intended only for non-combatants.
“The shipments are designed for the civilian population; should it become clear that they have been taken by Hamas, they will be halted,” the statement continued.
Israeli authorities said that 80 trucks filled with goods were slated to enter Gaza on Tuesday, as the pace of shipments permitted into the Strip ramps up.
U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a phone call on Sunday that Jerusalem must “immediately and significantly” increase the amount of humanitarian aid it allows to enter Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Sinai.
“The president reiterated that Israel has every right and responsibility to defend its citizens from terrorism and underscored the need to do so in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians,” according to a White House readout of the call.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that Israel had taken steps to shut down Gaza’s phone and internet communications, but that the United States had convinced it to at least partially reverse those measures.
“The restoration of some telecommunication services on Sunday morning meant that the U.N., WHO and other emergency and aid groups could begin to coordinate with their staff in Gaza again,” said the report. “The official said that the U.S. made it clear to Israel that communications needed to be turned back on,” it added.
Israel on Saturday reopened the second of three water pipelines to the Gaza Strip, allowing for some 7.5 million gallons per day to flow into the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.
Following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on western Negev communities, Israel on Oct. 9 cut off the water it supplies to Gaza. However, the first water pipe was reopened, at reduced flow, last week.
Israeli water amounts to 9% of the Strip’s supply during peacetime. The 7.5 million gallons per day Israel is currently supplying is just over half of the approximately 13 million gallons a day supplied before the war.
Arab and Western officials have supported Israeli claims that Hamas is stockpiling food, fuel and other supplies in Gaza, The New York Times reported on Friday.
One senior Lebanese official said Hamas has enough stockpiled to fight for three to four months without resupply.
Israel has said that Hamas bears responsibility for the Gaza population, and has rejected calls that it must allow fuel to enter the Strip.
“Hospitals warning that they’re running out of fuel is a serious matter, and should be addressed by the governing entity of the Gaza Strip: Hamas. They have fuel, enough to pump water and provide essential electricity for hospitals. Priorities,” tweeted IDF Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus on Oct. 26.