Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Israel will allow humanitarian aid from Egypt to enter Gaza, Joe Biden announces
Israel will not prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid from Egypt to the Gaza Strip, US president Joe Biden said during a visit to Tel Aviv. Prime minister Benjamin Netnayahu confirmed this, as long as the aid does not fall into the hands of Hamas. The aid will include food, water and medicine for civilians, his office said.
The US government is working closely with the Egyptian government, Biden said. The US, the UN and other partners in the region will make sure that trucks carrying humanitarian supplies get to the border "as quickly as possible".
Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu's office stressed that Israel will not provide humanitarian aid itself until the hostages held by Hamas are released. The country also wants the International Red Cross to be able to visit the hostages.
Gaza borders Israel and Egypt. The southern border post of Rafah is the only one not controlled by Israel. Egypt has kept this border crossing with Gaza closed since Hamas launched a full-scale attack on Israel, and has previously said it could not be used because of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.
Biden also said the US would spend $100 million (about 95 million euros) on humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza and the West Bank. He stressed that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people. The US president called the release of the hostages a top priority and said he would ask the US Congress this week for "unprecedented" aid.
In his speech, Biden also said that the attack on a Gaza hospital was the result of a "rocket that got out of control" fired by a "terrorist group" in the Palestinian territory. Biden thus supports Israel's version of events, which blames the Palestinian organisation Islamic Jihad. This group has denied responsibility. The US president referred to "data from the US Department of Defence" that exonerated Israel.
Biden also said he was "saddened" and "shocked" by the hospital explosion in Gaza. At least 471 people were killed in the hospital blast, according to the Gaza health ministry.
© Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP