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Israel to open border crossing into Gaza

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Israel to open border crossing into Gaza

Israel says it will reopen a key border crossing into northern Gaza as part of steps to increase the flow of humanitarian aid into the territory.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Friday his security cabinet has approved a series of “immediate steps”, including the temporary reopening of the Erez crossing for the first time since the Hamas attack on October 7.

It also said Israel would allow its port in Ashdod to process aid shipments bound for Gaza, as well as permitting an increase in Jordanian aid shipments through another land crossing.

“This increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis and is necessary to ensure the continuation of the fighting and to achieve the goals of the war,” Mr Netanyahu’s office said.

The announcement did not elaborate on quantities or types of items to be let in.

The decision came after US President Joe Biden called on Israel to take steps “to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering and the safety of aid workers” during a phone call with Mr Netanyahu following the attack on a World Central Kitchen relief convoy which killed seven aid workers.

The heavily fortified Erez crossing served for years as the only passenger terminal for people to move in and out of the territory.

It was heavily damaged when Hamas militants stormed the facility on October 7 and has remained closed ever since.

The United Nations says much of the population in northern Gaza is on the brink of starvation.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson welcomed the moves, saying the plan “must now be fully and rapidly implemented”.

“As the President said today on the call, US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these and other steps, including steps to protect innocent civilians and the safety of aid workers,” she said.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that plans to build a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to help boost the flow of aid into the territory continue to move forward.

Major General Pat Ryder, the Pentagon press secretary, said the floating pier – announced by Mr Biden during his State of the Union address last month – will be on line by the end of the month or early May.

Mr Ryder said Israel has agreed to provide security on the shore as aid is transferred and distributed, but details are still being worked out.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting about attacks on humanitarian workers in Gaza and the risk of famine in the conflict-torn territory on Friday.

A UN aid convoy was scheduled to head out on Thursday night after the UN paused night operations for 48 hours, said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

He told reporters the convoy “will hopefully make it to the north.”

“Because of what happened to World Central Kitchen, we had to pause… and regroup and reassess all sorts of factors,” he said.

In a statement following the leaders’ call, the White House said Mr Biden “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers”.

“He made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps,” the statement said.

Mr Biden also told Mr Netanyahu an “immediate ceasefire is essential” and urged Israel to reach such an accord “without delay”, according to the White House, which described the conversation as “direct” and “honest”.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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