As the first humanitarian aid convoy entered Gaza Saturday morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked regional partners and encouraged further uninterrupted assistance.
“The opening of this essential supply route was the result of days of exhaustive U.S. diplomatic engagement in the region and an understanding President Biden reached with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during his recent historic visit to Israel,” a State Department release said.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly called for Israel and Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing and allow aid deliveries to Gaza, where water, medicine and food have been in short supply.
“Hamas must not interfere with the provision of this life-saving assistance. Palestinian civilians are not responsible for Hamas’s horrific terrorism, and they should not be made to suffer for its depraved acts,” Blinken added, saying that allowing additional aid into Gaza was “imperative to the welfare of the people.”
Humanitarian concerns grew after an Israeli order to evacuate northern Gaza ahead of a ground invasion last week, causing residents to concentrate in the blockaded strip’s southern portion.
Israeli airstrikes in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack have continued throughout the last two weeks, as IDF forces continued preparations for an “expanded” engagement, including a ground assault.