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Israel vows more aid for Gaza; Blinken says ‘the real test will be the results’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was seeking “results” in response to news that Israel would open more aid routes into Gaza.

Israel’s decision to allow aid in via new routes comes after President Biden made clear in a call with Israel’s prime minister on Thursday that U.S. support for Israel will depend on its next steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

Blinken called Israel’s agreement on Friday to establish new aid routes a “positive development,” but immediately added that the United States would “see” whether Israel would make it a priority to allow more aid into the enclave. He said the commitment would be “the actual number of trucks that continue to come in”.

“The real test is the results and that is what we hope to see in the coming days and weeks,” he told a news conference in Brussels on Friday. “Indeed, the proof is in the results,” he told a news conference in Brussels on Friday. .”

Israel has been under increasing pressure from U.S. officials and humanitarian agencies to increase the number of crossings into Gaza for aid as the United Nations warns that famine is imminent.

President Joe Biden ratcheted up the pressure in a conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and said future U.S. support for Israel hinged on how Israel addressed his concerns about high civilian deaths and widespread hunger.

Hours later, the Israeli government declare Other aid routes include via the port of Ashdod and the Erez crossing, a checkpoint between Israel and northern Gaza.

“I’m asking them to do what they’re doing,” Biden told producers on Friday.

But the Israeli statement provided few details, and it was unclear when these new routes would open or how much aid could pass through them. Additionally, moving aid to northern Gaza through the Erez border crossing could pose logistical hurdles, as much of the aid is stored in Egypt, on the other side of the coastal enclave.

Aid officials were also cautious about the news, saying they needed to see how and when the new measures would take effect.

Stéphane Dujarric, a contributor to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said news of additional aid routes was positive. “But, of course, we have to see how this is implemented,” he added.

The World Food Program said on Friday it would seek clarification with Israeli authorities “about their security and logistical arrangements so that we can move quickly to take advantage of any new opportunities to feed more Gazans” When famine occurs. “

German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock echoed calls from humanitarian groups and asked the Israeli government to take new measures “quickly”.

She ‘no longer has any excuses’ Write on X.

European Council President Charles Michel said the new measures were “not enough” and “urgent action is needed to end hunger immediately”.

“Children and babies in Gaza are dying of malnutrition,” he write on X.

Since the war began, Israel has limited aid entering Gaza to two tightly controlled crossings: Kerem Shalom and Rafah, both in the southern part of the enclave.

Much of Gaza’s international aid flows through Egyptian warehouses near El-Arish, not far from the city of Rafah across the Gaza border. Some aid is also delivered via different routes from Jordan.

Trucks carrying aid from El-Arish typically undergo security checks at the Egyptian border in Rafah.

Aid agencies face challenge From lengthy Israeli inspections at border crossings to violence as aid is distributed to Palestinians in Gaza, every step of the delivery process is present.

Israel inspects goods entering Gaza with the aim of removing items that could be used by Hamas. Aid officials said the inspection process caused significant delays, while Israel argued that confusion among humanitarian groups and the diversion of goods by Hamas were to blame for any damage. bottleneck.

Blinken said on Friday that the United States would be watching “whether bottlenecks and other delays at border crossings are being resolved.”

The worst shortages are in northern Gaza, where hungry people are crowding trucks carrying food and aid groups say they are struggling to deliver supplies because of Israeli restrictions and widespread lawlessness.

Martina Steeves Gridnev, Gaya Gupta and Jonathan Rice Contributed reporting.

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