UN denied access to Rafah crossing point by Israeli authorities

UN denied access to Rafah crossing point by Israeli authorities
UN denied access to Rafah crossing point by Israeli authorities

The Rafah crossing point, on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, October 15, 2023. NEW CHINA/SIPA

By Le Nouvel Obs with AFP

Published on May 7, 2024 at 2:36 p.m.

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Israel does not allow the UN access to the Rafah crossing point in the south of the Gaza Strip. This blockage prevents the entry of goods into the Palestinian territory from Egypt, including diesel essential for humanitarian aid.

“We currently have no physical presence at the Rafah crossing point because the Cogat [organisme israélien chargé de coordonner la politique israélienne dans les territoires palestiniens occupés, Ndlr.] denied us access to this area” which is the main entrance to the Gaza Strip, said Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), during a regular press briefing this Tuesday, May 7 in Geneva .

“We were told that there would be no movement of personnel or goods in either direction for the moment… For how long? I do not know “he added before emphasizing that blocking access to Rafah has “a considerable impact”.

No more entry points to Gaza

No aid can any longer enter through the Kerem Shalom crossing point, which has been closed since Sunday by the Israeli army after rocket attacks. “Currently the two main arteries for delivering aid to Gaza are blocked. This morning is one of the darkest in this nightmare that has lasted for seven months”, insisted Jens Laerke. If the fuel is blocked, “it would be a very effective way to bury the humanitarian operation”judged the spokesperson.

As for the Erez crossing point, providing access to the north of the Gaza Strip and recently reopened by Israel, any aid that could pass there must be subject to the control of the Israeli authorities in Kerem Shalom, said a spokesperson of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), James Elder, during the press briefing. Kerem Shalom being ” farm “nothing can be controlled, he said.

The UN is all the more concerned that there are no significant reserves of aid in Gaza: all that has come in so far has been immediately distributed. For fuel, according to Jens Laerke, it only enters through Rafah, the reserve “is for the whole” of the humanitarian operation in Gaza and is “very, very short, about a day […] mainly diesel, to run trucks and generators”.

At his side, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Harris, confirmed that the Rafah crossing point has been closed since Monday without exception: “No personnel entering or leaving, no evacuations, nothing. And I think it’s the same today.”.

Rafah refugees under pressure

The Gaza Strip is cut off from the world and targeted by intense Israeli bombardments in response to the bloody attack carried out by Hamas on October 7 in Israel. The IDF first penetrated the north of Palestinian territory before advancing towards the south. It deployed tanks in Rafah on Tuesday and took control of the Palestinian part of the crossing point towards Egypt.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has designated the city of more than a million people as the last bastion of Hamas and the Israeli army (IDF) has dropped leaflets calling for around 100,000 residents to evacuate. “towards the expanded humanitarian zone of al-Mawasi” located ten kilometers to the north.

“The IDF facilitated” in al-Mawasi “the construction of field hospitals, tents” as well as the arrival of water, food and medical equipment, assured an army spokesperson, Nadav Shoshani, during a briefing on Tuesday. A version of the facts far from that of Unicef ​​spokesperson James Elder.

“The situation in areas where people have been ordered to go is incredibly worse than in Rafah”, he stressed. Residents and humanitarian organizations describe areas there that are already overcrowded or destroyed by war, while Rafah is home to Gaza’s last major hospital, the European Hospital, which, according to James Elder, “is one of the last lifelines for civilians”.

By Le Nouvel Obs with AFP

On the subject Israelo-Palestinian conflict

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