newsIsrael at War

Israel denies UNRWA claim fuel entered Gaza from Egypt

Jerusalem said the trucks were distributing fuel already inside the Strip.

U.N. vehicles and empty trucks wait for the arrival of aid on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.
U.N. vehicles and empty trucks wait for the arrival of aid on the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.

Israel has denied that fuel trucks entered the Gaza Strip on Sunday. A U.N. official at the Rafah crossing and an Egyptian source cited by AFP said that fuel entered the Hamas-run enclave from Sinai.

Six trucks with fuel to power generators at two hospitals entered Gaza from Egypt on Sunday, according to an official from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the Egyptian source.

However, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) unit denied that fuel entered from Egypt, claiming that the trucks were already inside Gaza and transferring fuel within the Strip, from U.N. fuel depots to hospitals.

Israel has said it will not allow fuel or other materials that could be used by the Hamas terrorist organization to enter the Strip, allowing only water, food and medical supplies to cross from Egypt into Gaza.

Israel denied on Saturday that some 20 trucks carrying aid into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip earlier in the day were not checked for weapons and contraband.

“At the request of the U.S. administration, humanitarian aid [comprising] only water, food and medical equipment went through Egypt’s Rafah crossing into the southern Gaza Strip. All equipment was inspected before entering Gaza,” according to a statement from COGAT.

“We emphasize that Israel has the ability to verify that nothing other than [the] aforementioned was brought in or removed,” the statement added.

Asked by JNS during a Sunday press briefing whether Israel can ensure aid does not get to Hamas once it enters the Gaza Strip, Eylon Levy, spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office Press Office said, “I want to emphasize we do have an ability to make sure that that aid is not being smuggled to Hamas, that Hamas is not using those humanitarian corridors in order to smuggle war materiel.

“Israel will thwart any attempts to exploit those humanitarian corridors to divert arms towards Hamas, and any attempts to exploit the international community’s goodwill and hard-earned taxpayer dollars, in order to divert international aid to Hamas,” Levy added.

The New York Times cited U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric on Saturday as saying that the first aid to enter Gaza since the war erupted on Oct. 7 was not screened. Instead, he said the trucks had entered the enclave via an “expedited process” under which a cargo manifest was submitted to the United States, Egypt and Israel and the aid distributed by the Red Cross.

Dujarric said the process would not be used again, and could not confirm when additional trucks would be allowed to enter.

The goods crossed into the Gaza Strip via Egypt on Saturday for the first time since Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel that left 1,400 people dead, at least 4,100 wounded and 200 others held hostage by the terrorist group.

“The opening of this essential supply route was the result of days of exhaustive U.S. diplomatic engagement in the region and an understanding President [Joe] Biden reached with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday.

“We urge all parties to keep the Rafah crossing open to enable the continued movement of aid that is imperative to the welfare of the people of Gaza. We have been clear: Hamas must not interfere with the provision of this life-saving assistance. Palestinian civilians are not responsible for Hamas’s horrific terrorism, and they should not be made to suffer for its depraved acts,” added the statement.

More than 200 trucks carrying some 3,000 tons of cargo have amassed at the crossing after being held up for days.

Israel imposed a siege on Gaza following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre but changed tack due to pressure from the United States and other countries.

Families of the captives have expressed anger at Netanyahu’s approval of the aid deliveries.

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