Egypt Has Agreed To Allow 20 Aid Trucks Into Gaza, Says Biden

The shipment would likely not cross until Friday, as the road at the crossing needed repairs, Biden said.


A woman consoles another as she reacts in the aftermath of Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023. – Thousands of people, both Israeli and Palestinians have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip, entered southern Israel in a surprise attack leading Israel to declare war on Hamas in Gaza on October 8. (Photo by MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has agreed to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza to allow a first batch of around 20 humanitarian aid trucks through, US President Joe Biden said Wednesday.

“He agreed to… let up to 20 trucks through to begin with,” Biden told reporters after calling Sisi from Air Force One while returning from a visit to Israel, where he was showing solidarity over the October 7 Hamas attacks.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan (2nd L), US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (3rd L) and US President Joe Biden (4th L) listen to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they join a meeting of the Israeli war cabinet in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

The shipment would likely not cross until Friday, as the road at the crossing needed repairs, Biden said.

“They’re going to patch the road. They have to fill in potholes to get these trucks through.  And that’s going to occur — they expect it’ll take about eight hours tomorrow,” he said.

READ ALSO: Biden Backs Israel Account Of Gaza Hospital Strike, Denounces Hamas

The first 20 trucks will be a test of a system for distributing aid without allowing the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, which controls Gaza, to benefit, the US president said.

The United Nations is set to distribute aid on the Gaza side of the border.

“If Hamas confiscates it or doesn’t let it get through or just confiscates it, then it’s going to end, because we’re not going to be sending any humanitarian aid to Hamas if they’re going to be confiscating it. That’s the commitment that I’ve made,” Biden said.

He added that the 20 trucks represented a “first tranche,” but “150 or something” trucks are waiting in total. Whether the rest are allowed to cross will depend on “how it goes.”

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.  (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)

Biden had been due to meet Sisi on Wednesday at a four-way summit in Jordan, but it was canceled after a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital that caused anger across the Arab world.

He said he had instead talked to Sisi from Air Force One for about half an hour.

“The bottom line is that he (Sisi) deserves some real credit because he was very accommodating,” the US president added.

Biden characterized his trip to the war zone as a success and said that while expressing US support for ally Israel, he was “very blunt with the Israelis” on the need to allow aid into Gaza.

“If you have an opportunity to alleviate the pain, you should do it. Period. And if you don’t, you’re going to lose credibility worldwide. And I think everyone understands that,” he said.

Asked by journalists about reports that his administration had told Israel that US forces would fight alongside Israeli troops in response to any attack by the powerful Lebanese movement Hezbollah against Israel, Biden said this was “not true.”

However, he said that “our military is talking with their military about what the alternatives are” in the event of a Hezbollah attack.

AFP