Israeli military announce a ‘tactical pause’ in fighting to allow aid through

The Israeli military on Sunday announced it would implement a “tactical pause” in its offensive in the southern Gaza Strip to allow aid to flow through.

The army said the pause would begin in the Rafah area at 8 a.m and remain in effect until 7 p.m local time.

It said the pauses would take place every day until further notice.

The break is intended to allow aid trucks to reach the nearby Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for incoming aid, and travel safely to the Salah a-Din highway, a main north-south road, to deliver supplies to other parts of Gaza, the military said. It said the pause was being coordinated with the UN and international aid agencies.

The crossing has suffered from a bottleneck since Israeli ground troops moved into Rafah in early May.

The UN has repeatedly reported that Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian crisis, with widespread hunger and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine.

Israel has come under increasing pressure to ease the humanitarian burden on Gaza.

From May 6 until June 6, the UN received an average of 68 trucks of aid a day, according to figures from the UN humanitarian office, known as OCHA. That was down from 168 a day in April and far below the 500 trucks a day that aid groups say are needed.

Humanitarian need has only grown as more than 1 million Palestinians have crowded into southern and central Gaza.

COGAT, the Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, says there are no restrictions on the entry of trucks. It says more than 8,600 trucks of all kinds, both aid and commercial, entered Gaza from all crossings from May 2 to June 13, an average of 201 a day. But much of that aid has piled up at the crossings and not reached its final destination.

UNRWA has posted that less than a third of the health centres in Gaza are operational and that over 50,000 children require treatment from acute malnutrition. It is the UN agency tasked with helping Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

But Israel has blamed the UN for not allowing aid to flow into Gaza.

The UN denies the allegation. It says the fighting between Israel and Hamas often makes it too dangerous for U.N. trucks inside Gaza to travel to Kerem Shalom, which is right next to Israel’s border.

It also says the pace of deliveries has been slowed because the Israeli military must authorize drivers to travel to the site, a system Israel says was designed for the drivers’ safety. Due to a lack of security, aid trucks in some cases have also been looted by crowds as they moved along Gaza’s roads.

The new arrangement aims to reduce the need for coordinating deliveries by providing an 11-hour uninterrupted window each day for trucks to move in and out of the crossing.

It was not immediately clear whether the army would provide security to protect the aid trucks as they move along the highway.

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