Ismailia: The first truck carrying a United Nations fuel shipment into Gaza since Israel imposed a siege on the Palestinian enclave in its war with Hamas crossed from Egypt on Wednesday, though it will do little to alleviate shortages that have hampered relief efforts.
The delivery was made possible by Israel giving its approval for 24,000 litres (6,340 gallons) of diesel fuel to be allowed into Gaza for UN aid distribution trucks, though not for use at hospitals, according to a humanitarian source.
“This is only 9% of what we need daily to sustain lifesaving activities,” Tom White, director of the UN relief agency in Gaza, posted on social media platform X. He confirmed that just over 23,000 litres, or half a tanker, had been received.
Aid workers say a lack of fuel, which is needed for hospital generators, provision of water, sewage treatment and communications as well as for the distribution of relief, has contributed to a sharp deterioration of conditions for Gaza’s 2.3 million residents.
Limited deliveries of humanitarian aid have been crossing from Egypt into Gaza since Oct. 21, but Israel had refused to allow in fuel, saying it could be used by Hamas.
The United Nations had warned in recent days that it would soon have to halt humanitarian operations as its fuel stocks became fully depleted.
Fuel shortages have already caused or contributed to the closure of hospitals, bakeries, sewage pumping stations, water desalination plants and water wells, and were threatening to shut down telecoms data centres and connection points within 48 hours, the UN said on Tuesday.
The initial delivery of 24,000 litres of fuel was intended to be split over two days, with 12,000 litres allocated for each day, an international source with knowledge of the operation said.
“This is not enough for anything - not for hospitals, not even for aid deliveries,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It’s meant to be enough only to bring some of the aid that has been outside - and got rained on for example - indoors to the warehouses.” On Tuesday 91 trucks carrying food, medicine, bottled water, blankets and tents entered Gaza from Egypt, but the U.N. says deliveries since Oct. 21 - 1,187 trucks in total - can only meet a fraction of needs. Distribution of the aid had largely come to a halt because of lack of fuel, it said.
After the first truck carrying fuel entered Egypt’s Rafah crossing headed for Gaza on Wednesday, witnesses said two other trucks were lined up on the Egyptian side, but it was unclear when they might enter.
Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on Oct. 7. Israel says 1,200 people were killed and some 240 captives taken in the attack. Gaza health officials say more than 11,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed in Israel’s military offensive.