New Gaza crossing opens for aid truck inspections

Egypt on Tuesday sent 80 truckloads of humanitarian aid destined for the Gaza Strip to a checkpoint just opened by Israel, which has been relentlessly bombarding the Palestinian territory since a bloody Hamas attack on October 7, humanitarian sources told AFP.

At the same time, another 100 trucks were being checked at the Nitzana terminal between Egypt and Israel, so far the only inspection point opened by Israel, which for weeks has been imposing a “complete siege” on the Gaza Strip, which has been under blockade for 17 years.

On Monday evening, the Israeli army announced the opening of an additional inspection point for humanitarian aid, at Kerem Shalom, before it enters the Gaza Strip from Egypt via the Rafah terminal, claiming that this would “double” the amount of assistance entering the Palestinian territory.

Rafah is the only point of entry to the Gaza Strip that international organizations can use to deliver aid to a population living in catastrophic humanitarian conditions.

The United Nations humanitarian agency Ocha welcomed the new aid inspection point in Kerem Shalom, a few kilometers from Rafah, on Tuesday, explaining that it would save time for convoys that previously had to travel dozens of kilometers between Al-Arich, the Egyptian town where aid is centralized, and Nitzana.

On Sunday, it reported that around 100 trucks had been entering Gaza every day since the end of a week-long truce on December 1, compared with a daily average of 500 trucks before the war.

At the additional checkpoint, “trucks carrying water, food, medical supplies, and shelter materials” will be inspected, according to a joint statement from the Israeli army and Cogat, the Israeli Defense Ministry body responsible for Palestinian civil affairs.

“Today we inspected the first group of aid trucks to (prevent) possible arms smuggling for Hamas, at Kerem Shalom before they go to the Rafah crossing,” Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy said on Tuesday.

The Gaza Strip has been shelled by Israel since the start of the war, which was triggered by an attack of unprecedented scale on October 7 by Hamas commandos infiltrating Israel from Gaza, during which 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed, according to the authorities.

According to the Ministry of Health of Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, more than 18,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of them women and young people under the age of 18, perished in the Palestinian territory in the Israeli army offensive.