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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Israel blames UN for slow aid as Guterres warns of catastrophe

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid enter the Gaza Strip via the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Dec. 2, 2023. A temporary truce between Israel and Hamas expired on Dec. 1, with the Israeli army saying combat operations had resumed, accusing Hamas of violating the operational pause.    (Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
By Antony Sguazzin Bloomberg News

Israel blamed the United Nations for the inadequate flow of food and other aid into Gaza, deepening a dispute over an evolving humanitarian crisis.

Israel is clearing 250 trucks a day through the Nitzana border crossing between Egypt and Gaza but the U.N. is unable to process what’s arriving and distribute it in Gaza, said Colonel Elad Goren, head of the civil department of the agency overseeing Israeli government activities in Gaza and the West Bank.

“We are allowing hundreds of trucks into Gaza,” he said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Thursday. “The problem is the capability of the U.N. We won’t be the problem, the focus needs to be how much they can collect.”

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Wednesday just 80 trucks entered Gaza carrying aid and 69,000 liters of fuel, down from an average of 170 a day during a seven-day truce that ended Dec. 1. It blamed a shortage of trucks because many are stranded in Gaza, telecommunications blackouts and staff unable to report to the Rafah crossing because of fighting.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres used his most powerful diplomatic tool on Wednesday, writing to the Security Council to urge a cease-fire to halt a situation in Gaza that is “fast deteriorating into a catastrophe.”

The letter was sent under Article 99 of the U.N.’s charter, which allows the secretary-general to bring any issue seen as threatening international peace to the Security Council’s attention, the U.N. said. It was the first time it’s been used in five decades.

Israel has been at war with Hamas — the group that rules Gaza — since Oct. 7, when militants stormed across Gaza’s border and killed 1,200 people and abducted 240. Israel has responded with a bombing campaign and ground invasion that local authorities say left 16,000 people dead and turned much of northern Gaza into rubble.

Hamas is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union.

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(—With assistance from Fadwa Hodali)