Israeli army announces daily 'tactical break' in southern Gaza

The Israeli army has announced it will hold a daily ‘tactical break’ in the southern Gaza Strip until further notice. The 11-hour window aims to allow in more aid via the Kerem Shalom crossing. 

The pause will begin in the Rafah area at 8.00, remain in effect until 19.00 and will take place every day until further notice. The intention is to allow more aid trucks to reach the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid, and travel safely to the Salah a-Din highway, a main north-south road, to deliver supplies to other parts of Gaza, the military said.

The pause has been coordinated by the United Nations and international aid agencies, but falls short of a complete ceasefire that was sought by the international community, including Israel’s long-standing ally the US. While peace talks are still ongoing, it is expected that the real negotiations will only resume after the completion of Israel’s military operation in Rafah.

The announcement of a tactical break came shortly after the Israeli military said that another two Israeli soldiers had been killed in northern Gaza on Saturday, in addition to eight killed in a blast that engulfed their armoured vehicle in Rafah on the same day. The losses, among the heaviest for the military since it began its ground offensive in Gaza, have heightened public anger and will likely put further pressure on the ceasefire and hostage deal talks.

'Too dangerous to travel'

Israel’s eight-month military offensive against Hamas has plunged Gaza into a humanitarian crisis. The UN has reported widespread hunger and fears that hundreds of thousands of people are on the brink of famine. The fighting has complicated aid deliveries. From 6 May until 6 June, the UN received an average of 68 trucks of aid a day. That was down from 168 a day in April and far below the 500 trucks a day that aid groups say are needed. 

Cogat, the Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, claims there are no restrictions on the entry of trucks and says that more than 8,600 trucks, both aid and commercial, entered Gaza from all crossings from 2 May to 13 June, an average of 201 a day, but much of that aid has piled up at the crossings and not reached its final destination.

According to Cogat, the UN is facing fundamental logistical problems, including the lack of trucks. The UN denies this and says the fighting between Israel and Hamas makes it too dangerous for trucks inside Gaza to travel to Kerem Shalom.

The new arrangement aims to reduce the need for coordinating deliveries by providing an 11-hour uninterrupted window each day for trucks to move in and out of the crossing.


An Israeli Mercava tank © PHOTO ANDRE DURAND / AFP

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