Iran’s presidential candidates talk economic policies in 2nd live debate ahead of June 28 vote

Israel’s pledge to guard aid route to Gaza falls apart as lawlessness blocks distribution

JERUSALEM – The Israeli army announced on Sunday that it is creating a new safe corridor for the delivery of aid to southern Gaza. Days later, however, this self-proclaimed “tactical pause” brought little relief to the desperate Palestinians.
The United Nations and international humanitarian organizations say the breakdown of law and order has rendered the aid route useless.
With thousands of aid trucks piled up, groups of armed men regularly block convoys, hold drivers at gunpoint and rummage through their cargo, according to a UN official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. a problem.
He said lawlessness has proven to be a major obstacle to aid distribution in southern Gaza – where an estimated 1.3 million Palestinians displaced from Rafah, or more than half of Gaza’s entire population, are now sheltering in tent camps and cramped apartments without adequate food and water. or medical equipment.
Here’s a closer look at the security challenges facing the UN and humanitarian organizations.
Israel’s “tactical pause” failed
Israel said on Sunday it would observe daily pauses in fighting along a route stretching from Kerem Shalom – the only operational aid crossing in the south – to the nearby town of Khan Younis. Before the break, humanitarian organizations reported that the need to coordinate the movement of trucks with Israelis in an active combat zone was slowing the distribution of aid.
A UN official familiar with the relief effort said there were no signs of Israeli activity along the route. On Tuesday, the UN tried to send a convoy of 60 trucks along the road to pick up aid in Kerem Shalom. But 35 trucks were seized by armed men, the official said.
In recent days, armed men have approached the crossing and set up roadblocks to stop trucks loaded with supplies, a UN official said. They rummaged through pallets in search of smuggled cigarettes, a rare luxury in a territory where a single smoke can cost $25.
The rise in lawlessness is the result of growing desperation in Gaza and the power vacuum left by Hamas’s waning hold over the territory, said Mkhaimar Abusada, an associate professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, who is now in Cairo.
With the territorial police force being targeted by Israel, he said crime has re-emerged as an unsolved problem in Gaza.
“After Hamas came to power, one of the things they brought under their control was the lawlessness of the so-called big clans,” Abusada said. “Now it’s up to the Palestinians to deal with it themselves.” So again we are witnessing shootings between families, there are thefts, all kinds of bad things are happening.”
UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, deployed local Palestinian police to escort aid convoys, but many refused to continue on duty after airstrikes killed at least eight policemen in Rafah, the agency said.
Israel says the police are a legitimate target because they are controlled by Hamas.
Is any aid still getting to Gaza?
The situation has largely crippled the distribution of aid to the south – especially since Gaza’s Rafah border crossing with Egypt was closed when Israel attacked the city early last month.
A UN official said 25 flour trucks used the route on Tuesday. Some private commercial trucks also passed through – many using armed protection to deter groups trying to seize their cargo. An AP reporter along the road saw at least eight trucks carrying armed security guards around on Monday.
Before the Israeli offensive on the town of Rafah, hundreds of fuel trucks were routinely entering the area.
The UN has now started diverting some fuel trucks through northern Gaza. Farhan Haq, a UN spokesman, said five fuel trucks entered Gaza on Wednesday. The UN humanitarian agency said it was the first fuel deliveries since early June and supplies are still scarce.
Aid organizations say that only a ceasefire and the reopening of the Rafah crossing could significantly increase the flow of aid to the area.
The military body responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid efforts, COGAT, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Security concerns also plague aid from the American pier project
The US installed a jetty off the coast of Gaza last month to provide another aid route into Gaza. However, the ambitious project suffered repeated logistical and security obstacles.
Cyprus, a partner in the effort, said the pier was back in service on Thursday after being disconnected for the second time last week due to rough seas. COGAT said on Thursday that there were “hundreds of aid pallets waiting to be collected and distributed by UN humanitarian agencies”.
However, even there, the distribution of aid is hindered by security concerns.
The UN suspended cooperation with the pier on June 9 – a day after rumors spread that the Israeli military had used the area in a hostage rescue operation that left more than 270 Palestinians dead. Photos of the operation showed an Israeli helicopter near the pier.
Both Israel and the US deny that the pier was used in the operation. But the perception that the pier was used for military purposes could endanger aid workers and compromise the principles of neutrality of aid groups, the UN says.
Aid workers said they were working with the Israelis to find a solution, but the security burden fell squarely on Israel’s shoulders.
The UN and other humanitarian officials, including Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, met this week with Israel’s military commander and COGAT officials to seek solutions.
USAID then said the meeting ended with promises of concrete action, but gave no details.

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