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Isreal blocking aid to Gaza, says Egypt

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Israel has been blocking aid and evacuations from Gaza through the Rafah crossing, the only border point that Egypt does not fully control, Egypt said on Monday. This has left hundreds of tonnes of relief supplies stranded.

The Rafah crossing, which could be a vital lifeline for the besieged and bombarded Palestinian enclave, is technically open but not functional because of Israeli air strikes on the Gaza side, Cairo said.

Gaza’s 2.3 million people are facing a humanitarian crisis as Israel’s relentless attacks and blockade have cut off power, water and health services. Hospitals are running out of fuel for their generators.

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Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Egypt was trying to ease the plight of the Palestinian civilians in Gaza, but Israel had not agreed to open the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side to let in aid and let out foreign nationals.

There is an urgent need to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” Sameh Shoukry told reporters, adding that talks with Israel had not been fruitful.

He added, “Until now the Israeli government has not taken a position on opening the Rafah crossing from the Gaza side to allow the entrance of assistance and exit of citizens of third countries.”

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White House spokesman, John Kirby, said U.S. officials were hoping that Rafah would be operational for a few hours late on Monday, after earlier hopes were dashed.

Aqsa, a radio station affiliated with Hamas, said Israeli shelling hit the Rafah crossing area again on Monday. The Egyptian side of the border was empty on Monday afternoon, while aid supplies were piled up in the nearby city of Al Arish.

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“It is critical that life-saving assistance is allowed to move through the Rafah crossing without delay,” U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement, announcing that its chief Martin Griffiths would travel to Cairo on Tuesday.

Gaza has been under siege since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants launched a cross-border raid that triggered Israel’s most intense offensive and blockade ever.

Hundreds of Palestinians have fled their homes within Gaza, some heading south towards the Rafah crossing with cars and suitcases, but others returning north after finding no shelter.

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