Despite Hamas mortar rounds, Kerem Shalom crossing opens to allow humanitarian aid

Sirens sound at Kerem Shalom crossing hours after Biden Administration pressures Israel to reopen Gaza land border for aid; US demands 'limited operation' in Rafah as Gazans flee north

Siren in Kerem Shalom, following the opening of the crossing due to American pressure: Amid intense international pressure to scale down operations in Rafah as much as possible, and following American threats that have begun to materialize with the halting of arms shipments to Israel, the political leadership ordered the reopening of the Kerem Shalom crossing on Wednesday morning. This decision came three days after the Hamas attack on the Rafah crossing in which four soldiers were killed. On Wednesday afternoon, Following the opening of the crossing, a number of rockets were fired from Rafah towards the Karem Shalom crossing area. The rockets did not cross into Israel and fell within the Gaza Strip territory.
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משאיות סיוע הומניטרי במעבר כרם שלום
משאיות סיוע הומניטרי במעבר כרם שלום
Trucks moving through Kerem Shalom crossing
(Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
The crossing was reopened on Wednesday morning, partly at the request of the U.S., following a phone call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Joe Biden, despite ongoing mortar fire targeting Kerem Shalom even on the previous day. The IDF's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT)emphasized that "all humanitarian aid is admitted only after a thorough security inspection by the security personnel of the land crossings authority at the Ministry of Defense."
The bombings in Rafah continued Wednesday, prompting many Gazans to flee the city, which has become a focal point of Israel's push to eradicate Hamas. Footage from the Strip shows Palestinians moving in trucks and vehicles. The recent attacks have primarily targeted Rafah, where the evacuation of residents began earlier this week. IDF forces have entered the eastern part of the city and have also taken control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.
Meanwhile, in what is referred to as "the last stronghold of Hamas," preparations are being made to expand the operation, and the Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah is being evacuated of patients and staff. Concurrently, the Al-Qassam Brigades – the military wing of Hamas – reported that they had "exchanges of fire and fierce battles" with IDF forces east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.
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Palestinians trying to move north
The Hamas Authority for Crossings and Borders reported that Wednesday morning, despite American assurances that the crossing would soon open as Israel had promised, the Kerem Shalom crossing remains closed to aid entry for the third consecutive day. UNRWA has called for "the immediate reopening of the Gaza crossings," noting that only through them can essential supplies reach the inhabitants of the Strip. "We reiterate the call to the UN Secretary-General to work toward achieving a desired cease-fire agreement in Gaza," the group said in a statement.
The attacks are indeed concentrated on Rafah, particularly in the Al-Jeneina neighborhood in the eastern part of the city, but not exclusively. In the last day, terror targets were also struck in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City – where IDF forces maneuvered in the early months of the war, as well as in Beit Lahiya and the central camps, including Nuseirat.
On Tuesday night, a senior official in the Biden administration confirmed that the U.S. delayed a weapons shipment to Israel last week. He stated that "a shipment of bombs was stopped to signal to Israel the American opposition to the action in Rafah." His comments come a day after the Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. is delaying a $260 million shipment to Israel, which includes, among other items, about 6,500 JDAM kits ("Joint Direct Attack Munition") that transform ordinary air bombs into "smart bombs" and are target-guided, according to sources familiar with the delay of the deal.
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פעילות צבאית ברפיח
פעילות צבאית ברפיח
Bombings in Rafah
(Photo: Amir Levy /Getty Images)
It was also reported that, since March, the Biden administration has not advanced the process of transferring additional weapons worth about a $1 billion to Israel, in deals including tank ammunition, military vehicles, and mortar missiles. According to American sources, these potential deals included the transfer of $700 million in 120mm tank ammunition, $500 million in tactical vehicles, and less than $100 million in 120mm mortar ammunition.
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First published: 11:29, 05.08.24
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