Questions Persist as Israel Signals Support for More Aid for Gaza

By John Mercury March 15, 2024

Israel’s military on Thursday said it supported new initiatives to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza by land, air and sea, just hours after the military’s chief spokesman said it was trying to “flood” the enclave with sorely needed aid.

Israel has endorsed three new aid efforts over the past week — a ship carrying food approaching the coast off Gaza; airdrops by foreign countries; and an initial convoy of six trucks crossing directly from Israel into northern Gaza, where aid agencies say hunger is severest, for the first time since Oct. 7.

The public signaling from Israeli officials follows increasingly urgent calls from the United States and other allies for Israel to do more to alleviate the humanitarian crisis wrought by its invasion. The United Nations has warned parts of Gaza are on the brink of famine.

Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli political analyst and a columnist at Haaretz, said that Israel is coming under pressure from all sides and that images emerging from Gaza of emaciated, starving children may have been “a tipping point” for policymakers. “There’s a limit to how much opprobrium Israel is willing to take and stand behind and say we are in the right,” she said.

Aid organizations and U.N. officials say the new efforts are too small and inefficient to meet the enormous needs of Gazan civilians. They have argued that it would be better for Israel to ease entry restrictions for trucks at established crossing points into the enclave, and do more to speed the delivery of goods inside Gaza.

Airdrops are ineffective and largely symbolic, these groups say, able to deliver just a fraction of the food that a truck convoy can haul. Setting up the infrastructure for aid deliveries by sea will be expensive and take time: U.S. officials have said that it could be weeks before a floating pier for maritime aid is up and running.

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