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Israeli ‘military pause’ to allow limited aid into Gaza

The Israeli military has stopped fighting and opened a humanitarian corridor in the Gaza Strip, but only along one of the main roads and only for 11 hours a day, from 8am to 7pm local time. This is intended to allow aid from the Kerem Shalom crossing, which borders Israel, to the Salah al-Din Road and then towards the north of the enclave, but it will do nothing to help the majority of displaced and desperate Palestinians further south.

The announcement triggered a furious political assault from far-right Israeli government ministers. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also criticised the move, which the military emphasised wouldn’t prevent it from continuing its assault on Rafah. Rather than a ceasefire, the military framed it as a “local, tactical pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes”.

Netanyahu has been under increasing pressure from his war cabinet, and on Monday he dissolved it following the resignation of centrist opposition leader Benny Gantz and another another cabinet member due to disagreements over the war strategy.

The UN welcomed the opening of the corridor on 15 July but said it hadn’t translated into an immediate increase in aid deliveries. The World Food Programme (WFP) said logistics and coordination would remain key obstacles as aid agencies have to work with the Israeli military, while the corridor also cuts through one of the most dangerous and lawless areas of Gaza.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, said over the weekend that some 50,000 Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip require immediate treatment for acute malnutrition. Dozens of starvation deaths have already been reported, according to the head of the World Health Organization. UN hunger experts have warned that over a million people in Gaza could face starvation by mid-July.

Israel’s ground invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city in the enclave, has forcibly displaced over one million Palestinians in the past month, while its eight-month military campaign has killed more than 37,000 people, according to Gaza health officials. Barely any of Gaza’s hospitals are functioning properly, and most are struggling with staff and supply shortages to cope with a never-ending influx of critical patients.

For background, context, and reporting from the ground in Gaza, read our coverage here.

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