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IDF: UN needs to ‘scale up’ to distribute aid piling up on Gaza border; pier resumes operations

Aid distribution continues to be hampered by UN logistical failures and local crime

Truck carrying humanitarian aid enters Gaza through the US-built pier (Photo: US CENTCOM)

The Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) on Thursday called on the United Nations to expand its operations and distribute all the aid piling up in the Gaza Strip after being processed by Israel.

“On the Gazan side of the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where over 1,000 trucks are awaiting collection and distribution, also in the JLOTS collection and distribution compound, there are hundreds of aid pallets awaiting collection and distribution by the UN aid agencies,” COGAT commander, Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian said in a statement.

“We have said in the past, and we continue to say so now – the UN has a duty to scale up its logistical capabilities of collecting and distributing the humanitarian aid. We [are continuing] with our efforts – now it is your duty to complete the job,” he said.

COGAT published aerial footage showing the aid pallets piling up near JLOTS, the American floating pier.

“Here too, just like the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom pallets of aid are waiting to be picked up and distributed by the UN aid agencies for days. We've said it before, the UN needs to scale up,” COGAT wrote.

The UN said on Friday it had not resumed transporting the aid from the pier to its warehouses after the pier was dismantled on Friday due to poor sea conditions.

According to COGAT, on Wednesday 285 aid trucks that arrived from Egypt, the Ashdod port and Israel were transferred to the Gaza Strip via the Erez and the Kerem Shalom crossings.

Of those, only 33 trucks were collected at Erez and only 55 trucks at the Kerem Shalom crossing.

“The content of 1,100 aid trucks is waiting to be collected from the Gazan side of Kerem Shalom,” COGAT said.

Israel has long rejected accusations that it is responsible for an alleged famine in Gaza, pointing instead to the UN's inability to distribute the aid once it reached the enclave as a factor for the difficult humanitarian situation.

On Wednesday, the Times of Israel reported that UN Senior Humanitarian and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza Sigrid Kaag threatened Israel it would leave it to deal with the situation alone, during a meeting with Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

Kaag pointed to the chaos and crime spreading across the enclave as factors that could cause UN agencies to end their operation in the area, Israel's Channel 12 news reported.

The report added that Katz rejected a request to allow dual-use items to be transferred to Gaza. These are items that can be used to produce weapons or restore Hamas defenses.

Along with armed Hamas operatives stealing trucks, another new phenomenon hampering aid distribution is the smuggling of cigarettes that are being hidden among the aid pallets, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Wednesday.

The aid trucks and UN aid warehouses have been increasingly under threat of raids by smugglers and local gangs, who seek to profit from the rampant black market, where a pack of cigarettes sells for up to 25$ apiece.

According to the WSJ, the phenomenon has increased since Israel took control of the Philadelphi Corridor, shutting off the smuggling routes that have been supplying the Gaza Strip’s tobacco needs throughout the war.

Earlier this week, Israel Defense Forces announced a daily 11-hour truce along a corridor in Rafah to secure and facilitate the aid distribution.

The return of the American floating pier after much back-and-forth is another factor that could potentially improve the distribution. The JLOTS (Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore) pier was expected to resume operations on Thursday, two American officials told Reuters.

The unnamed officials said the pier had been re-attached to the shore on Wednesday after being temporarily removed last Friday due to poor sea conditions.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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