Israel has agreed to allow two fuel trucks a day into Gaza, Israeli officials said Friday, after the UN warned shortages had halted aid deliveries and put people at risk of starvation.
The situation was dire at the Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza. Israel’s army said it was still searching the sprawling complex for suspected hideouts of fighters from the movement’s armed wing.
Hamas rejects an Israeli charge that it has a command center at the hospital, where thousands of people, including wounded patients and premature babies, are believed to be inside. The hospital also denies the claim.
Israel has vowed to “crush” Hamas in response to the group’s October 7 attack, when it broke through Gaza’s militarized border to kill about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and take about 240 hostage, according to Israeli officials.
The army’s aerial bombing and ground campaign has killed about 11,500 people, including thousands of children, according to Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.
In response to a US request, Israel’s war cabinet unanimously decided to allow “the entry of two diesel fuel tankers per day for the needs of the UN to support water and sewer infrastructure… provided that it does not reach Hamas,” Israeli officials said.
Israel’s national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said the fuel amounted to roughly 2 percent to 4 percent of the normal quantities of fuel that entered Gaza before the war erupted on October 7.
The announcement came hours after the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said its aid trucks were unable to enter Gaza from Egypt for a second consecutive day due to the lack of fuel and a near-total communications blackout.
In a statement, the agency said it would be unable to “manage or coordinate humanitarian convoys” from Friday because of the telecommunications outage.
“The situation in Al-Shifa is catastrophic” for patients, displaced people and health workers who are crammed inside without electricity, water and food, the hospital’s director, Mohammed Abu Salmiya, told AFP on the phone later during a brief restoration of communications.
Israel has defended its Al-Shifa operation, with the military saying it found rifles, ammunition, explosives and the entrance to a tunnel shaft at the hospital complex.