Jordan’s King Abdullah on Thursday urged UN aid officials and international NGOs to pile pressure on Israel to allow more aid into the beleaguered Gaza enclave where the humanitarian situation is worsening, officials and aid workers said.
They said the monarch told an emergency meeting in Amman of UN officials, heads of Western non-governmental organisations and representatives of Arab donors it was unacceptable that Israel continued to hold back sufficient aid flows into the densely populated enclave, home to 2.3 million people.
“The monarch urged the international aid community to do their bit and save Gazans who have endured a brutal war that has turned their land into an unliveable place,” said one delegate who requested anonymity since deliberations were taking place confidentially as requested by the royal palace organizers.
The palace was not immediately available for comment.
A truce between Israel and Hamas built around hostage and prisoner releases has allowed substantially more aid into Gaza over the past six days. But deliveries of relief including food, water, medical supplies and fuel remain far below what is needed, aid workers say.
With Israel refusing to allow any aid in through its borders, supplies have been flown and driven into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula for delivery to Gaza through the Rafah crossing.
Red Crescent workers unloaded and sorted the latest deliveries of aid at Al Arish airport in northern Sinai on Thursday, and a Reuters reporter saw long lines of container and flat bed trucks queued up on the side of the road leading to Rafah.
Israel began a relentless bombing of Gaza in response to an Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel by Hamas militants who killed some 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostage.
Gaza health authorities deemed reliable by the United Nations say more than 15,000 people have been confirmed killed in Israel’s attack, about 40 percent of them children, with many more feared dead and lost under rubble.
UN aid chief Martin Griffiths and senior UNRWA officials attending the Amman conference told delegates it was crucial Israel reopens the Kerem Shalom border crossing that before the war handled more than 60 percent of the truckloads going into Gaza.
“This is what will make a real difference” said the head of a leading Western NGO, who was sceptical that Israel would agree to the measure before it ends its campaign to root out Hamas.
Bottlenecks and capacity limitations at the Rafah crossing mean it cannot handle more than 200 trucks a day.
“Before the war Gaza used to receive 500 trucks every day. We have never come close to that figure since Oct 7,” said UNRWA director of communications Juliette Touma, the UN aid agency providing aid to Palestinians.
Trucks carrying aid through Rafah have to first go through Israeli inspections at the crossing between Nitzana in Israel and Al-Awja in Egypt, to ensure that only limited supplies of fuel are allowed and prevent what they term dual usage goods from entering.
Israel’s control of the amounts and type of goods entering Gaza has curtailed the aid effort, and its acceptance of only limited supplies of fuel was hampering the health system’s recovery, according to health and aid workers.
Truck drivers on the Egyptian side of the border said they sometimes faced days-long waits at the Nitzana crossing before inspections were completed.
NGOs and UN officials also heard appeals from the monarch to accelerate delivery of aid to the northern part of Gaza, where Israel has sought to push inhabitants south but over 700,000 people remain, a delegate said.
The United Nations says access to northern Gaza remains limited and that most water production facilities there remain shut due to lack of fuel, leading to concerns about dehydration and spread of disease from unsafe water sources.