Blinken Presses Israel Over Its Announcement of New Aid Routes Into Gaza


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that the United States was looking for “results” in response to news that Israel would open up more routes for aid to flow into Gaza.

The Israeli decision to allow aid to enter through new routes came after President Biden made it clear in a call with the Israeli prime minister on Thursday that U.S. support for Israel would depend on its next steps to alleviate a humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

Mr. Blinken called Israel’s agreement to establish new aid routes “positive developments” on Friday, but he immediately added that the United States would be “looking to see” if Israel would make allowing more aid into the enclave a priority. One measure of Israel’s commitment, he said, will be “the number of trucks that are actually getting in on a sustained basis.”

“The real test is results, and that’s what we’re looking to see in the coming days and the coming weeks,” he told a news conference in Brussels on Friday, adding, “Really, the proof is in the results.”

Israel has been under rising pressure from U.S. officials and humanitarian agencies to increase the number of crossings into Gaza for aid as the United Nations warns that a famine is looming.

On Thursday, President Biden stepped up the pressure in a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying future U.S. support for Israel depended on how it would address his concerns about a high civilian death toll and widespread hunger.

Hours later, the Israeli government announced additional aid routes, including through the port of Ashdod and the Erez crossing, a checkpoint between Israel and northern Gaza.

“I asked them to do what they’re doing,” Mr. Biden told reporters on Friday.

But the Israeli statement offered few details, and it was not immediately clear when those new routes would open — or how much aid could pass through them. In addition, moving aid through the Erez border crossing into northern Gaza is likely to present logistical hurdles, since most aid has been stored in Egypt, on the opposite side of the coastal enclave.

Aid officials also welcomed the news with caution, saying they needed to see how and when the new measures would go into effect.

Stéphane Dujarric, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said the news about more aid routes was positive. “But, of course, we will have to see how this is implemented,” he added.

The World Food Program said on Friday that it would seek to clarify with the Israeli authorities “their security and logistics arrangements so we can move swiftly to exploit any new opportunity to feed more Gazans as famine takes hold.”

And Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, echoed calls from humanitarian organizations for Israel’s government to carry out the new moves “quickly.”

“No more excuses,” she wrote on X.

Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said that the new measures were simply “not enough” and that “urgent efforts are required to immediately end hunger.”

“Gazan children and infants are dying of malnutrition,” he wrote on X.

Since the start of the war, Israel has limited aid entering Gaza to two tightly controlled border crossings: Kerem Shalom and Rafah, both in the south of the enclave.

Most of Gaza’s international aid passes through warehouses in Egypt near El Arish, not far from the city of Rafah, which straddles the border with Gaza. Some aid has also been delivered through a different route from Jordan.

From El Arish, the trucks carrying aid have typically undergone security checks on the Egyptian side of the border in Rafah.

Aid agencies have faced challenges at every step of the delivery process, from lengthy Israel inspections at the border crossings to violence while distributing aid to Palestinians within Gaza.

Israeli checks on goods entering Gaza aim to weed out items that could potentially be used by Hamas. Aid officials have said the inspection process causes significant delays, while Israel has argued that disorganization by humanitarian groups and diversions of shipments by Hamas were to blame for any bottlenecks.

Mr. Blinken said Friday that the United States would be looking to see whether “the bottlenecks and other delays at crossings are being resolved.”

The most dire shortages are in northern Gaza, where hungry people have swarmed trucks carrying food and where aid groups say they have struggled to deliver supplies because of Israeli restrictions and widespread lawlessness.

Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Gaya Gupta and Johnatan Reiss contributed reporting.


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