Nov 28, 2023 - World

U.S. "made it clear" to Israel increased aid to Gaza should be "sustained" after pause

Aid trucks reach Gaza City during pause in fighting between Hamas and Israe.

Aid trucks reach Gaza City during pause in fighting between Hamas and Israel. Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images

The U.S. has made it clear to Israel that it expects the increased levels of humanitarian aid and fuel entering Gaza during the pause in fighting to continue even when the temporary ceasefire ends, two senior U.S. officials told reporters.

Why it matters: During the pause, which was extended by two days on Monday, there has been a significant increase in the number of aid trucks allowed to enter Gaza, including in the northern parts of the enclave. This increase has also included additional fuel and cooking gas.

  • The Biden administration is stressing that the surge in humanitarian aid isn't subject to a release of hostages, according to the U.S. officials.

What they're saying: "The assistance that is being moved in and the fuel that is being provided are not linked to the hostage releases," one of the senior U.S. officials said.

  • "Obviously, we have taken maximum advantage of the pause for the hostage releases to increase as much as we can but what we are doing stands on its own," the official told reporters.
  • The U.S. has "made very clear that this level or increased levels ideally need to be sustained," the official added.

State of play: On Tuesday, the first of three U.S. military planes carrying medical items, food aid and winter items for the civilian population in Gaza will land in Egypt. The other two planes will arrive in the coming days.

  • Aid groups have welcomed the increased aid levels but have also warned that it is only a fraction of what is needed to address the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
  • "[T]his aid barely registers against the huge needs of 1.7 million displaced people. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza is getting worse by the day," UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday.

What to watch: One of the U.S. officials said the Biden administration is concerned about a possible Israeli military operation in southern Gaza, where about 2 million Palestinians are concentrated after more than a million were displaced from their homes in the northern part of the enclave.

  • The official said the Biden administration told Israel that a military operation in southern Gaza must avoid any mass displacement of Palestinians from their homes.
  • Such displacement would be "beyond disruptive, it will be beyond the capacity of any humanitarian support network," the official stressed.
  • "If you ask me to characterize the response of the Israeli government — it's a receptive one. There is an understanding that a different type of campaign has to be conducted in the south," the official said.

Go deeper: UN chief says Gaza is "graveyard for children" as death toll climbs

Go deeper