UN Reports Israel’s Trial of New Inspection Process at Gaza Crossing

A new process for inspecting aid for Gaza at the Kerem Shalom crossing is being tested, but efforts to get permission for trucks to enter through the crossing and ramp up relief are still ongoing, a senior UN official told Reuters on Saturday. Under the new system, trucks would come to the Kerem Shalom crossing on the border between Israel, Gaza and Egypt for the first time from Jordan, before entering Gaza from Rafah, about 3 km (1.86 miles) away. But the trucks would need to be allowed to enter Gaza directly through Kerem Shalom to alleviate an increasingly desperate situation in the coastal enclave, said Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the UN World Food Programme. Israel has so far rebuffed pleas from the United Nations and others to open Kerem Shalom, but they both signaled on Thursday that Kerem Shalom could soon help process delivery of humanitarian supplies into Gaza. Until now, limited quantities of aid have been delivered from Egypt through the Rafah crossing, which is ill-equipped to process large numbers of trucks. Trucks have been driving more than 40 km (24.85 miles) south to Egypt’s border with Israel before returning to Rafah, leading to bottlenecks and delays. A process to test the inspection system at Kerem Shalom for trucks arriving from Jordan is underway, said Skau, who visited Gaza on Friday. Skau said the situation inside Gaza was increasingly chaotic as people grabbed what they could from aid distribution points, with larger numbers of people displaced southwards close to the border with Egypt and aid trucks at risk of being stopped by desperate residents if they even slow down at an intersection. “There is a question for how long this can continue, because the humanitarian operation is collapsing,” he said. “Half of the population are starving, nine out of 10 are not eating every day. Obviously the needs are massive.”