Israel to pause daytime fighting near Gaza border to allow humanitarian aid

The Israeli military announced Sunday that it would pause fighting during the daytime hours along a route in southern Gaza so humanitarian aid can pass through and be delivered to Palestinians in need.

The “tactical pause” will apply to about 7 miles of road near Rafah, the southern Gaza city where hundreds of thousands of civilians are sheltering. The Israeli army said the pause would begin at 8 a.m., last until 7 p.m. and happen daily until further notice, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

The pause is intended to allow aid trucks to reach the Kerem Shalom crossing — the border of Gaza, Egypt, and Israel — and the main aid entry point.

The Israeli military body that oversees aid distribution in Gaza, COGAT, said the 7.4-mile route would increase the flow of aid into other parts of Gaza, including Khan Younis, the coastal area of Muwasi and central Gaza, the AP reported.

The northern part of Gaza, which was decimated in early fighting following the Oct. 7 attack, is receiving aid entering from the north.

The Israeli military said the decision to pause daytime fighting came after discussions with the United Nations and other international aid agencies that have increasingly warned of famine and a humanitarian crisis.

While the fighting will stop in that corridor, the conflict will continue in other parts of southern Gaza, and there’s no change to aid entry elsewhere in the Strip.

The daytime pause is meant to allow trucks to move in and out of the crossing and lessen the chance that aid trucks will be looted by starving Palestinians.

Jens Laerke, a U.N. humanitarian spokesperson, told the AP that the announcement was welcome, but no aid was dispatched today. The U.N. hopes for more concrete measures from Israel, like regular entry of fuel, Laerke said.

At the end of May, President Biden announced the terms of an Israeli-led proposal that includes a three-part plan to end fighting and release hostages that remain in Hamas captivity. Biden said the plan was drafted by Israel, but the allied country said it was not fully embraced yet.

Israel and Hamas are weighing the latest proposal, but the Palestinian militant group has made demands that Israel deemed unacceptable.

The pause in fighting also follows the news of four Israeli hostages being rescued from Hamas. While Israel was conducting the recovery mission, its military killed more than 200 Palestinians.

The Associated Press contributed.

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