Rafah crossing reopens: aid delivery and Gaza exodus underway
According to local sources, the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has reopened to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the exit of foreign citizens and Palestinians with dual nationality. Barriers on the Egyptian side have been removed recently. The aid includes medications, blankets, mattresses, and water, as confirmed by the Gaza Red Crescent.
Israel has agreed to a five-hour ceasefire with the US and Egypt, allowing the reopening of the crossing for assistance delivery and foreign citizen evacuation. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office denies the existence of a ceasefire for aid or foreign citizen exit.
The US Department of State advises Americans in Gaza to approach the Rafah border crossing if they feel it’s safe, as there may be limited notice and opening time.
Foreign nationals and Palestinians with foreign nationality may leave Gaza through the Rafah crossing starting at 9 AM local time, coinciding with the start of aid delivery.
UN: Shortage of Body Bags
The death toll in Gaza has risen to 2,750, with over 9,700 injured individuals, according to Hamas’ Ministry of Health. Fourteen staff members of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) have been killed in Israeli attacks. The agency’s director, Philippe Lazzarini, stated that many of their 13,000 employees in Gaza have been displaced. UNRWA also highlights the shortage of body bags for the deceased in Gaza.
Gaza has been without electricity for the past five days, leading to a collapse of vital services such as health, water, and sanitation. Food insecurity and limited access to drinking water are also major concerns. Over a million people, nearly half of Gaza’s population, have been displaced, with nearly 400,000 of them in UNRWA facilities. The agency acknowledges that they are unable to provide significant assistance to all those who have been displaced.
Biden Advises Iran to Avoid Escalation
Israel conducted airstrikes on Gaza overnight, resulting in casualties, and also targeted Hezbollah positions in Lebanon. U.S. President Joe Biden stated that Hamas must be eliminated but warned against the Israeli occupation of Gaza, calling it a grave error. He emphasized the need for a robust Palestinian Authority and a path towards the establishment of a Palestinian state. Biden urged Iran to avoid escalation in the conflict and clarified that there is no clear evidence linking Tehran to Hamas’ attack on Israel.
Tehran’s Response: Significant Damage to the U.S.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian warned that if the conflict escalates, the United States will experience significant damage. He stated that Iran cannot simply remain an observer if the atrocities in Gaza continue and that if the war expands, significant damage will be inflicted on America.