Food bound for Gaza rots in the sun as Egypt's Rafah crossing stays shut

May 25, 2024 9:27 am

[Source: Reuters]

Some of the food supplies waiting to enter the Gaza Strip from Egypt have begun to rot as the Rafah border crossing remains shut to aid deliveries for a third week and people inside the Palestinian enclave face worsening hunger.

Rafah was a main entry point for humanitarian relief as well as some commercial supplies before Israel stepped up its military offensive on the Gazan side of the border on May 6 and took control of the crossing from the Palestinian side.

Egyptian officials and sources say humanitarian operations are at risk from military activity and that Israel needs to hand the crossing back to Palestinians before it starts operating again.

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Israel and the United States have called on Egypt, which is also worried about the risk of Palestinians being displaced from Gaza, to allow the border to reopen.

Meanwhile the backlog of aid on the road between the Egyptian side of the crossing and the town of al-Arish, about 45 km (28 miles) west of Rafah and an arrival point for international aid donations, has been building up.

One truck driver, Mahmoud Hussein, said his goods had been loaded on his vehicle for a month, gradually spoiling in the sun. Some of the foodstuffs are being discarded, others sold of cheap.

“Apples, bananas, chicken and cheese, a lot of things have gone rotten, some stuff has been returned and is being sold for a quarter of its price,” he said, crouching under his truck for shade.
“I’m sorry to say that the onions we’re carrying will at best be eaten by animals because of the worms in them.”

Aid deliveries for Gaza through Rafah began in late October, two weeks after the start of the war between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas.

The flow of relief has often been slowed by Israeli inspections and military activity inside Gaza and the amount reaching the enclave’s 2.3 million residents has been far below needs, aid officials say.

A global hunger monitor has warned of imminent famine in parts of Gaza.