July 19, 2024

Egypt has agreed to allow fuel and humanitarian aid to move from its territory into Gaza via Israel, the White House and the Egyptian presidency announced on Friday, reopening a vital channel for relief into the devastated Palestinian enclave.

The agreement was reached during a telephone call on Friday between President Biden and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian president, according to the White House readout of the call, which said that fuel and humanitarian aid would be able to enter Gaza through an Israeli-operated crossing, Kerem Shalom, which sits at the junction of Egypt, Gaza and Israel.

For months, Kerem Shalom was one of two main land crossings into Gaza through which desperately needed food, medicine and fuel could enter the enclave. The other, between Egypt at Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, has also been the main way for sick and wounded Gazans to flee the war.

In early May, after Israeli troops seized the Rafah crossing as part of a long-awaited advance toward the city, the border crossing there shut down. While Israel has also opened crossings into northern Gaza, the shuttering of Rafah limited how much international aid could make its way into the enclave. Israel and Egypt traded blame over the holdup.

In the weeks before Israel seized the Rafah crossing, widespread hunger had begun to ease in parts of Gaza amid a surge in aid, according to residents of the enclave. But after the assault, more than 800,000 people fled Rafah, and getting relief into Gaza — and from there to those who need it — became even more difficult.

When the Rafah crossing closed, the Egyptian government initially held out on sending aid trucks toward Kerem Shalom, in what American and Israeli officials called an attempt to pressure Israel to back down from its operation in Rafah.

Mr. el-Sisi’s office said the decision was a “temporary measure” until “a new legal measure to resume operations at Rafah crossing” was established. In the White House readout, President Biden said he was committed to reopening the crossing “with arrangements acceptable to both Egypt and Israel” and planned to send a senior team to Cairo next week for further talks.

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