International News Gaza: Israel takes Rafah crossing as truce talks continue

Gaza: Israel takes Rafah crossing as truce talks continue

Gaza: Israel takes Rafah crossing as truce talks continue post thumbnail image

The Israeli military released photos showing tanks and armoured vehicles at the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing The Israeli military says its troops have taken “operational control” of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Rafah has been a key entry point for aid and the only exit for people able to flee since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in October. A tank brigade moved in to the crossing area after a night of intense strikes.

The IDF released drone footage showing an armoured vehicle flying a large Israeli flag at the crossing as well as a number of tanks in the square outside the Palestinian migration centre. An IDF official said the Rafah crossing was now closed and that it was working to reopen Kerem Shalom once the security situation allowed it. Later on Tuesday, Hamas launched another four mortars were launched towards Kerem Shalom, according to the IDF.

Earlier, a spokesman for the UN humanitarian office said Israel had denied its staff access to both the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings. “The two main arteries for getting aid into Gaza are currently choked off,” Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva. He said there was only “one day of fuel available” in the UN’s storage tanks and warned: “If no fuel comes in for a prolonged period of time, it would be a very effective way of putting the humanitarian operation in its grave.” There was no immediate response from the IDF.

But it has said it is committed to facilitating deliveries of humanitarian aid into and within Gaza and that it has established alternative crossings, including two in the north. Sam Rose of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Unrwa, which is the largest humanitarian organisation in Gaza, told the BBC from Rafah that fuel was “the basis for everything inside Gaza”. “The fuel powers the water lines, it enables our health centres to keep running, it enables the hospitals to provide life-saving care. If that fuel runs out, then everything grinds to a halt,” he said. Mr Rose also described the situation for civilians on the ground in Rafah as “absolutely terrible”.

“The streets are clogged with people who are on the move. These are people from inside the evacuation zone, but also people on the outside… some of who have decided to move early,” he said. But he added that there was “nowhere safe for them to go”. “Half of the safe zone is on a sand dune, which cannot accommodate people for any length of time. The other half is inside Khan Younis, which has been subject to savage bombardment over the past several weeks.”

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