The United States announced the delivery of a 20-truck convoy carrying much-needed humanitarian assistance to the people in Gaza, the first since Hamas’s horrific Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel.
“We thank our partners in Egypt and Israel, and the United Nations, for facilitating the safe passage of these shipments through the Rafah border crossing,” the State Department said in a press release.
With this convoy, the international community is beginning to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that has left residents of Gaza without access to sufficient food, water, medical care, and safe shelter. 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 Biden reached with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his recent historic visit to Israel. Since that visit, Special Envoy David Satterfield has worked with the governments of Israel and Egypt, as well as the United Nations, to oversee its implementation.
The State Department urged 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. As President Biden stated, if Hamas steals or diverts this assistance it will have demonstrated once again that it has no regard for the welfare of the Palestinian people and as a practical matter it will hinder the international community from being able to provide this aid,” the State Department warned.
“Civilian lives must be protected, and assistance must urgently reach those in need. We will continue to work closely with partners in the region to stress the importance of adhering to the law of war, supporting those who are trying to get to safety or provide assistance, and facilitating access to food, water, medical care, and shelter for citizens wherever they are located in Gaza.”
The Gaza Strip suffered heavy civilian casualties from Israeli bombardment. On Oct. 18, the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry put the number of casualties in the Gaza Strip at 3,478 killed, 12,065 injured, and 1,300 missing under rubble. In the West Bank, related violence during the conflict killed 61 Palestinians and wounded at least 300.
There were reports of mass casualties resulting from an Israeli airstrike on the Jabalia Camp, where at least 50 people were killed. An Israeli airstrike at a United Nations school in the al-Maghazi refugee camp killed at least six people. Significant civilian casualties were reported following the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital explosion. Other mass casualty strikes included the Church of Saint Porphyrius airstrike and the al-Shati refugee camp airstrike.
On Oct. 13, the Palestinian Ministry of Health noted that 20 surnames had been removed from Gaza’s civil registry, meaning every single person in that entire family had been killed. On Oct. 16, the UNRWA stated there were so many deaths in Gaza that there were no longer enough body bags. Because the morgues were so overcrowded, bodies began to be contained in ice cream trucks.