Iran’s presidential candidates talk economic policies in 2nd live debate ahead of June 28 vote

Israel’s pledge to protect the aid route to Gaza is failing as lawlessness blocks distribution

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military said Sunday it was creating a new secure corridor to deliver aid to southern Gaza. But a few days later, this self-proclaimed “tactical pause” provided little relief for desperate Palestinians.
The United Nations and international aid organizations say the breakdown in law and order has rendered the aid route useless.
With thousands of aid trucks amassed, groups of armed men regularly block convoys, hold drivers at gunpoint and search their cargo, according to a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief media on the disaster. edition.
He said lawlessness has become a major obstacle to aid distribution in the southern Gaza Strip, where an estimated 1.3 million Palestinians displaced from Rafah, or more than half of Gaza’s total population, are now sheltering in tent camps and cramped housing without adequate food, water, or medical supplies.
Below, we take a closer look at the security challenges facing the UN and aid organizations.
Israel’s “tactical pause” got in the way
Israel said on Sunday it would observe daily lulls in fighting along a route stretching from Kerem Shalom – the only crossing point for operational aid in this strip in the south – to the nearby town of Khan Younis. Before the pause, aid organizations reported that the need to coordinate truck traffic with Israelis in the active combat zone was slowing aid distribution.
A U.N. official familiar with the aid operation said there were no signs of Israeli activity along the route. The UN tried on Tuesday to send a convoy of 60 trucks to pick up aid in Kerem Shalom. However, the official said that 35 trucks were intercepted by armed men.
In recent days, armed men have approached the border crossing and set up roadblocks to stop trucks loaded with supplies, a UN official said. They searched pallets for contraband cigarettes, a rare luxury in a territory where a single cigarette can cost $25.
The increase in lawlessness is the result of growing desperation in Gaza and a power vacuum created by Hamas’s weakening hold over the territory, said Mkhaimar Abusada, a political science professor at Al-Azhar University in Gaza who is now in Cairo.
He said that with the territory’s police forces targeted by Israel, crime in Gaza had once again become an unsolved problem.
“After Hamas came to power, one of the things they took control of was the lawlessness that existed in the so-called big clans,” Abusada said. “Now, the Palestinians have to deal with this themselves. “Once again we are seeing shootings between families, thefts and all kinds of bad things happening.”
UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, deployed local Palestinian police to escort aid convoys, but many refused to continue serving after raids killed at least eight police officers in Rafah, the agency said.
Israel says the police are legitimate targets because they are controlled by Hamas.
Is any aid still reaching Gaza?
The situation has largely paralyzed aid distribution in the south – especially since Gaza’s nearby Rafah border crossing with Egypt was closed when Israel invaded the city early last month.
A U.N. official said 25 flour trucks passed through the route on Tuesday. Some private trucks also passed through, many using armed security to deter groups seeking to seize their cargo. An AP reporter stationed along the road Monday saw at least eight trucks carrying armed security guards pass by.
Before Israel’s offensive on the city of Rafah, hundreds of fuel trucks regularly entered the area.
The UN has now begun redirecting some fuel trucks through northern Gaza. UN spokesman Farhan Haq said five fuel trucks entered Gaza on Wednesday. The UN humanitarian aid office said these were the first fuel deliveries since early June and supplies remained limited.
Aid groups say only a ceasefire and reopening of the Rafah border crossing could significantly increase aid flows to the area.
The military body responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid efforts, COGAT, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
US pier project aid also addresses safety concerns
Last month, the United States installed a pier off the coast of Gaza, intended to provide an additional route for aid to enter Gaza. However, the ambitious project faced repeated logistical and security setbacks.
Cyprus, a partner in the venture, said the pier was back in operation on Thursday after it was disconnected for a second time last week due to rough seas. COGAT said on Thursday that “hundreds of pallets of aid are awaiting collection and distribution by UN aid agencies.”
However, security concerns also make the distribution of aid difficult.
The UN suspended cooperation with the pier on June 9 – a day after rumors emerged that the Israeli military had used the area for a hostage rescue operation that killed more than 270 Palestinians. Photos of the operation show an Israeli helicopter near the pier.
Both Israel and the US deny that the pier was used in the operation. But the belief that the pier was used for military purposes could threaten aid workers and the principles of neutrality of humanitarian groups, the UN says.
Aid workers said they were working with the Israelis to find a solution, but the security burden fell entirely on Israel’s shoulders.
The U.N. and other humanitarian officials, including Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, met this week with Israel’s military chief and COGAT officials to find solutions.
USAID later said the meeting ended with promises of concrete action, but provided no details.

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