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An Egyptian official has been quoted by the WSJ (on May 14) saying that

as long as Israeli forces remain at Rafah crossing, Egypt will not send a single truck to Rafah.

And apparently those were not empty words. I24 reports today (May 21) that:

Critical supplies of food and medicine intended for Gaza are accumulating at the Egyptian border due to the continued closure of the Rafah crossing, creating significant disruptions in aid delivery efforts amid Israel's intensified military operations against Hamas.

FWTW, more officially, Egypt's stance is that:

The cessation of aid deliveries through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip is connected to the threat posed to humanitarian work by Israel's military operation in the area, Egypt's foreign minister said on Monday.

Anyhow, what is Israel and the international community doing [if anything] to compensate for that lack of Egyptian cooperation?

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    Well, it's kind of questionable that the Israeli government has any interest in compensating for the lack of humanitarian aid.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented May 21 at 21:58
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    The issue is really that, according to various agreements between Egypt and Israel, the Gazan side of the crossing should be controlled by PA, not by Israel. So Egypt does not want to set precedent of legitimizing Israel control of Gaza and introduction of military near the border area (which was limited to something like four battalions by the peace agreement.) Not everything rotates about Palestinians, knee-jerk reactions notwithstanding.
    – Morisco
    Commented May 22 at 9:48
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    This question assumes that Israel would want to do anything about it. It is more probable that they are happy with this attitude, after all until now the government of el Sisi has been quite supportive of the Isralei interests.
    – FluidCode
    Commented May 22 at 12:01

4 Answers 4

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DUBAI: A UAE aid shipment carrying 252 tons of food arrived in Gaza bound for the north of the enclave, Emirates News Agency reported on Sunday.

The shipment arrived via the maritime corridor from Larnaca in Cyprus. The delivery involved cooperation from the US, Cyprus, UK, EU and UN.

The supplies were unloaded at UN warehouses in Deir Al-Balah and are awaiting distribution to Palestinians in need.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2513086/middle-east

Food is being delivered by sea. The UAE recently sent 252 tons of food via the maritime corridor from Larnaca in Cyprus. Cooperation from the U.S., Cyprus, EU and UN was involved in this. This happened 2 days ago, so I am guessing they will send aid through the sea instead.

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  • Upvoted, but would this sea route be remotely enough to compensate for the hundreds of trucks? BTW, that piece seem to neglect to say it was apparently via the US floating pier. US sources are far less enthusiastic about its success thus far, interestingly enough. edition.cnn.com/2024/05/21/politics/… Commented May 21 at 23:20
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    @againstverylongusernames It's strange to compare a ship to a truck. Just comparing a ship transporting oil (which is liquid) to a truck transporting oil, it's 84 million gallons compared to on average 7000 gallons (over 10000 times). Solids (as opposed to liquids) have an even worse pack ratio in trucks compared to boats (because cargo not exactly fitting containers, fixed height of trucks, etc.). For literally everything, it's more efficient in tonnage to ship by, well, ship.
    – uberhaxed
    Commented May 22 at 2:17
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    @uberhaxed: It works in theory. In practice, there don't seem to be many ships heading for that US pier right now. Commented May 22 at 2:28
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    I managed to find a photo of the first delivery... As chaotic as the usual stuff in Gaza once the trucks were off the pier navytimes.com/news/your-navy/2024/05/21/… (Mostly because I was curious what 'intercepted' in the officialese meant.) Commented May 22 at 2:38
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    @againstverylongusernames the humanitarian aid brought to Gaza by hundreds of trucks also arrives by sea route - mostly to Al-Arish and Ashdod.
    – Morisco
    Commented May 22 at 9:52
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What would make most sense - given how important Rafah crossing is, how problematic sea deliveries are w.o. harbors and how difficult it seems to be to cross North-to-South by truck is to pressure Egypt to get over that, rather counterproductive, position:

The U.N. said that 10 truckloads of food aid - transported from the pier site by U.N. contractors - were received on Friday at a World Food Programme warehouse in Deir El Balah in Gaza.

But on Saturday, only five truckloads made it to the warehouse after 11 others were cleaned out by Palestinians during the journey through an area that a U.N. official said has been hard to access with humanitarian aid.

"They've not seen trucks for a while," a U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters. "They just basically mounted on the trucks and helped themselves to some of the food parcels."

The U.N. did not receive any aid from the pier on Sunday or Monday. "We need to make sure that the necessary security and logistical arrangements are in place before we proceed," said the U.N. official.

Egypt aid restrictions are complicating Gaza cease-fire negotiations - POLITICO

Top U.S. officials, including National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power, have pressed Egyptian officials in recent days to restart fuel shipments. But Cairo has so far refused.

update: Worth mentioning that Egypt may have valid concerns as far as deteriorating security. There is limited obligation to put one's citizens in deadly harm's way.

Israel-Hamas war: UN suspends Rafah food aid – DW – 05/22/2024

UN says Rafah food distribution suspended The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said Tuesday that it suspended food distribution in Rafah as supplies collapse and the security situation remains precarious.

UNRWA announced the suspension on X, formerly Twitter, without elaborating.

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  • Fuel is like one truck out of a hundred that enter[ed] Gaza (IIRC two fuel trucks per week). Of all things that's something the US could supply via its pier with little hassle. Commented May 21 at 22:59
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    An even better position would be to pressure Israel into allowing aid to reach Gaza, but nobody is willing to do that. Israel has taken the Rafah crossing, which was managed by Egypt, and Egypt has said "now it is your problem", which is not that unexpected or unreasonable. With Rafah crossing at their hands, Egypt could send aid to Rafah, then let UNRWA, Red Moon or other Palestinian organization to distribute the food. Now, they would be sitting ducks for Israeli fire, just like World Kitchen workers, and al-Sisi doesn't want that to happen - the uproar at home would be hard to control.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented May 22 at 7:14
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    @Rekesoft Rafah Crossing (like any international border crossing) has two sides - Israel took control only of the Palestinian/Gazan side of the crossing, not the Egyptian one.
    – Morisco
    Commented May 22 at 9:42
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    @FourLegsGoodTwoLegsBad Which implies the situation I've described above. Aid was going Egypt - Gazans, now it should be Egypt - Israel - Gazans, and I doubt IDF forces can tell an Egyptian from a Palestinian - or that they care. They can't even tell Israelis from Palestinian civilians, as some hostages could tell you if they were still alive.
    – Rekesoft
    Commented May 22 at 10:54
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    @Rekesoft an Egyptian and a Palestinian could be literally twin brothers with identical genomes, who happened to live on different sides of Rafah - these would be really difficult to tell apart.
    – Morisco
    Commented May 22 at 11:10
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Interestingly enough, a day later after I posted the Q, there was news that the US is trying to convince Egypt and Israel to reopen the crossing by putting the EUBAM in charge of the Gaza side of it:

The Biden administration is in talks with a European Union organization to potentially help open and take control of the Rafah border crossing in Gaza amid Israel’s invasion of the city, according to a senior administration official and another person familiar with the matter.

U.S. officials have for weeks worked behind the scenes, brokering talks between Israel and Egypt, to strike a deal that would put the European organization in charge of the Rafah crossing and significantly improve the flow of aid into the enclave, the people said. The Rafah crossing has been closed since Israel’s invasion of the city May 7.

In the talks, Egyptian officials have said they want the Gazans who used to run the crossing to return. Israel has argued that those who previously manned the crossing included members of Hamas — and that a new group should take over. [...]

The U.S. is proposing bringing in a neutral third party to take control of the crossing: the European Union Border Assistance Mission to the Rafah Crossing Point. The organization previously worked at the border in Gaza but suspended its operations in 2007 after Hamas took over Gaza. [...]

Israeli officials have traveled to Cairo in recent days to discuss the opening of the Rafah crossing. If they agree on EUBAM — and the group signs on to the idea — the crossing could open in the next several weeks, according to another senior U.S. official.

TBH that article is somewhat nebulous if there's any buy-in from either Israel or EUBAM on this [US] idea, right now.

FWTW, the Times of Israel for instance had a piece last year that said:

The continued existence of the unit known as EUBAM is an extreme example of the West’s willingness to keep pumping hundreds of millions of dollars a year into the moribund vision of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

OTOH, it looks EUBAM may be willing to step in in some circumstances, as a piece from Nov says:

“Eubam Rafah stands ready to redeploy to the Rafah crossing point as soon as conditions allow, subject to a decision by the 27 EU member states and the agreement of the parties on the ground," an EU Commission representative said.

OTOH

The left-wing daily Haaretz said Israel had begun negotiations with Egypt and the United States to hand over management of the crossing to a private US company.

So I guess they're less than keen on EUBAM. And

the Europeans had made it clear they would refuse to take part in operating the crossing unless the PA was involved.

Which is a show stopper for Netanyahu.


FWTW, the US floating pier has broken up in heavy seas, according to yesterday's news. So, I guess that shows a limitation of that venue.

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  • Which is a show stopper for Netanyahu. - you mean Europeans have some influence in the ME or on Netanyahu specifically?
    – Morisco
    Commented May 28 at 19:48
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The US has put pressure on Egypt to release the aid, so that it can enter Gaza via crossings other than Rafah:

On Friday, Egypt and the U.S. agreed to send aid via the Kerem Shalom crossing until legal arrangements are made to open Rafah from the Palestinian side, the Egyptian presidency said after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi had a telephone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden.

Egypt previously rejected an Israeli proposal to operate the Rafah crossing together:

Shin Bet officials presented the plan on a visit to Cairo on Wednesday, amid rising tension between the two countries following Israel's military advance last week into Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by war have been sheltering.
[...]
The Israeli proposal included a mechanism for how to manage the crossing after an Israeli withdrawal, the security sources said. Egypt insists the crossing should be managed only by Palestinian authorities, they added.

Upon US request Israel has also opened Erez crossing, which had been closed since the beginning of the war:

The Erez Gate in northern Gaza will be temporarily re-opened for the first time since the start of the war and Ashdod Port will also be opened for humanitarian deliveries.

More aid from Jordan will be allowed to enter via the Kerem Shalom Crossing.

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