UN Aid Chief Implores Israel to Open Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza

 The sun sets across from Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on November 15, 2023, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
The sun sets across from Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on November 15, 2023, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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UN Aid Chief Implores Israel to Open Kerem Shalom Crossing into Gaza

 The sun sets across from Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on November 15, 2023, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
The sun sets across from Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip near the border with Egypt on November 15, 2023, as battles continue between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths on Wednesday implored Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel as part of a 10-point plan to respond to the population's needs.

"Kerem Shalom, please Israel, give us that for our crossing point," Griffiths told reporters in Geneva.

The Kerem Shalom crossing was used to carry more than 60% of the truckloads going into Gaza before this conflict, Griffiths said.

Aid currently being allowed into Gaza comes through the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border, which was designed for pedestrian crossings and not trucks.

Other components of the plan presented by Griffiths include facilitating aid agencies' efforts to bring in a continuous flow of aid convoys and allow them to set up relief distribution hubs for civilians.

Griffiths also stressed the need to expand the number of safe shelters for displaced people in schools and other public facilities across Gaza and ensure that they remain free of hostilities.

"These are the actions required to rein in the carnage," Griffiths said. "The plan is comprehensive, and we are determined to push for every step, but we need broad international support."

Separately, in a posting on X, formerly Twitter, Griffiths said he was "appalled" by reports of the Israeli raid on Gaza's Al Shifa hospital.

"The protection of newborns, patients, medical staff and all civilians must override all other concerns," Griffiths wrote.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.