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Israeli Military Pauses Daily for Humanitarian Aid in Gaza

The Israeli military announced on Sunday a “tactical pause” during daytime hours in parts of southern Gaza to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Palestinians facing a severe crisis due to the ongoing conflict with Hamas.

The daily pause will affect approximately 7.4 miles of road in the Rafah area. However, fighting will continue in the city of Rafah, where Israeli forces are targeting the remaining brigades of Hamas militants.

The pause is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. local time and last until 7 p.m. local time, continuing daily until further notice.

The objective is to allow aid trucks to safely reach the Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid, and travel to the Salah a-Din highway. This pause aims to alleviate the bottleneck at the crossing since Israeli ground troops moved into Rafah in early May.

Humanitarian and Political Context

The pause falls short of the complete cease-fire sought by the international community, including the United States, Israel’s top ally. If effective, this limited halt in fighting could help address some of the dire needs of Palestinians, which have surged during the war, now in its ninth month.

COGAT, the Israeli military body overseeing aid distribution in Gaza, stated that the route would improve the flow of aid to other parts of Gaza, including Khan Younis, Muwasi, and central Gaza. Northern Gaza, heavily affected early in the war, is served by goods entering from a northern crossing.

The pause, coinciding with the start of the major Eid Al-Adha holiday, follows discussions with the United Nations and international aid agencies. Despite criticism from ultranationalists in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, the military emphasized that fighting continues in the rest of southern Gaza and that there is no change in the general entry of aid.

Current and Ongoing Efforts

The limited cease-fire comes as Israel and Hamas consider a new cease-fire proposal detailed by Biden.

Although Biden described the proposal as an Israeli initiative, Israel has not fully embraced it, and Hamas demands changes that Israel finds unacceptable.

The conflict continues with high casualties; Israel announced the names of 11 soldiers killed in recent attacks, bringing the total to 308 since the ground invasion began.

Hamas’ October 7 attack, which triggered the war, resulted in 1,200 Israeli deaths and 250 hostages, according to Israeli authorities. Health officials in Gaza report over 37,000 Palestinian deaths in the war.

Aid Distribution Challenges

The humanitarian situation in Gaza has deteriorated significantly, with widespread hunger and displacement. More than 1 million Palestinians, many already displaced, have fled Rafah, crowding into other areas of southern and central Gaza. These refugees live in dire conditions, with inadequate sanitation and shelter.

COGAT reported no restrictions on the entry of trucks, with over 8,600 aid and commercial trucks entering Gaza from May 2 to June 13. However, much of the aid has piled up at the crossings. COGAT blames the U.N. for logistical issues, while the U.N. cites safety concerns and the need for Israeli authorization for drivers.

The new arrangement aims to reduce the need for coordination by providing an uninterrupted window each day for aid deliveries. It remains unclear whether the military will protect aid trucks along the highway.

Additionally, the U.S. Central Command announced the temporary removal of an offshore pier designed to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza due to rough seas. The pier will be re-anchored once conditions improve.

With information from CBS News

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