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Hundreds of trucks full of aid sit idle near border with Gaza as crisis

Hundreds of trucks loaded with food and medical aid sat idle on the roads heading into Gaza recently as a senior humanitarian official accused the Israeli government of blocking lifesaving supplies from reaching the devastated enclave.

“They limit the number of trucks that can pass,” Mohamed Nossair, head of operations at the Egyptian Red Crescent, said of Israeli officials and soldiers charged with inspecting aid destined for Gaza. “The problem is also they reject these items … that are very essential.”

Oxygen canisters, water filters, metal forks, over-the-counter painkillers and generators were among the items that Nossair said had prevented trucks from entering Gaza, where a vast majority of the people are displaced and more than 32,000 have been killed, according to local health officials.

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“If I have a truck with rejected items, they reject all the truck,” Nossair said in an interview with NBC News.

On Thursday, the United Nations’ highest court reinforced Nossair’s statements, ordering Israel to open more land crossings to allow food, water, fuel and other supplies into Gaza.

Israeli officials have been imposing an opaque and cumbersome process and worsening the dire humanitarian crisis in the strip, Nossair and other aid officials charge. These accusations, which come amid warnings of an “imminent” famine inside Gaza, have brought increased criticism of Israel’s government and triggered a blame game with aid agencies.

Israeli officials have repeatedly denied obstructing aid from entering Gaza, and instead blame the U.N. for acute shortages of lifesaving supplies in the strip — particularly the north.
Members of an NBC News team in Rafah saw hundreds of vehicles on the road, as well as some in a parking area and more at a tunnel crossing in Ismailia, roughly three hours and 125 miles from the border crossing. Satellite images from the last week also show trucks on the road and parked near the crossing.

According to Nossair, at the time, roughly 100 to 120 trucks were entering Gaza per day — about half the number able to be processed by Israel, and a fraction of prewar levels. In recent days, the number of aid trucks ticked up to around 190. (Aid agencies and the U.N. say Gaza needs between 500 and 600 trucks a day carrying both humanitarian aid and commercial goods.)

Unclear restrictions imposed by Israel have resulted in an average of 20 to 25 trucks turned away every day, about a fifth of the number that end up crossing into Gaza, he said.

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