UN chief visits Egypt’s Rafah crossing ahead of Gaza aid delivery
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Friday to oversee preparations for the delivery of aid to the war-torn enclave.
Cargo planes and trucks have been bringing humanitarian aid to Rafah for days, but so far none has been delivered to the Gaza Strip, which Israel has besieged and bombed for 13 days.
“We are actively engaging with all the parties, with Egypt, Israel, the United States… in order to have these trucks moving as soon as possible,” Guterres told journalists.
Israel launched the bombing campaign after Hamas gunmen stormed into Israel from Gaza on October 7 and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
Read:Hundreds killed in strike on Gaza hospital
Around 1,500 members of Hamas, an Iran-backed Islamist militant group, were killed in clashes before the army regained control of the area under attack, Israel says.
More than 3,700 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli strikes on Gaza, also mainly civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the overcrowded Palestinian territory.
Rafah is the only crossing into the blockaded Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel, which agreed to allow aid to enter after a request from its ally the United States.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said on Friday that the first aid delivery via the Rafah crossing should take place “in the next day or so”.
Read:Besieged Palestinians await aid trucks as Israel pounds Gaza
Guterres said there was an “absolute need to have these trucks moving as soon as possible and as many as necessary”, adding that “this must be a sustained effort”.
“We are not looking for one convoy to come but we are looking for convoys to be authorised in a meaningful number to have enough trucks to provide support to Gaza’s people,” the UN chief said.