Following a request from Washington, Israel’s war cabinet agreed to allow 140,000 liters (369,850 gallons) of fuel into Gaza every two days, despite acute shortages that jeopardized aid delivery and communications in the embattled territory, Israel and US officials said on Friday.
When Israel launched a military assault in response to the Palestinian terrorist group’s Oct. 7 onslaught, which killed 1,200 people and captured 240 hostages, it imposed a stringent ban on all commodities entering Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Israel has since agreed to allow in aid trucks after stringent inspections, and a small amount of fuel was allowed in on Wednesday to keep United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) aid delivery trucks moving.
An Israeli official who declined to be identified said two trucks a day would be allowed in to meet the U.N.’s needs, but said the amount would give “minimal” support for water, sewage and sanitary systems in Gaza to prevent pandemics.
A U.S. State Department official, offering more details, said Israel had committed to allowing in 120,000 liters (31,700 gallons) of fuel every 48 hours for UNRWA’s trucks and other needs like desalinization of water, sewage pumping, bakeries and hospitals in the south of Gaza.
An additional 20,000 liters (5,280 gallons) every two days would be allowed in to power generators of telecoms company Paltel, which had warned of an imminent blackout of its cellphone network due to lack of fuel.
U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to allow fuel in for some time. But Secretary of State Antony Blinken made calls to members of Israel’s war cabinet on Wednesday, and warned that the fuel shortage risked a humanitarian catastrophe among Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, the State Department official said.
Israeli officials had previously argued that Hamas should release hostages before it eased the pressure on Gaza, the official said, adding that negotiations on the release of hostages continue separate from the move on fuel.
The Israeli official confirmed the decision came after a request from Washington, and said allowing the fuel in gives Israel extra room to maneuver in the international arena so it can continue its campaign to eradicate Hamas in Gaza.