Belgium wants Israel to open Gaza border crossings for humanitarian aid
At a meeting of European Development ministers on Tuesday, Belgium's Caroline Gennez called for increased and sustained humanitarian access to Gaza. She said EU ministers should join forces to press Israel to open two more border crossings.
Humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza can currently only be delivered through Rafah, the border crossing with Egypt. This crossing is normally only for pedestrians, not large trucks carrying tonnes of humanitarian aid. According to Gennez, the crossing is inadequate to deliver aid to the Palestinian people.
"There is a kilometre-long traffic jam, while a few minutes away people are desperate for food, water and medicine," she said in a press release. "Before the war, an average of 10,000 trucks of humanitarian aid entered Gaza every month. Since 21 October, barely 1,000 have entered."
"Delivering aid for a few days and then closing everything again, allowing people to live long enough to die under the rubble, is inhumane"
Gennez is asking her European colleagues to work together to pressure Israel to open the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings for humanitarian aid. These crossings, in the north and south-east of Gaza respectively, can handle a large volume of goods.
She also points out that Israel is obliged to provide permanent humanitarian access: "Delivering aid for a few days and then closing everything again, allowing people to live long enough to die under the rubble, is inhumane."
A temporary ceasefire would also make it easier to deliver aid. Hamas and Israel are currently negotiating the release of 50 hostages, including foreigners, and a five-day pause in fighting in Gaza, Israeli news website Ynet reported, citing Hamas. In return, Israel would release 300 female and underage Palestinian prisoners.
An aid convoy enters the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing with Egypt © PHOTO MOHAMMED ABED / AFP