Israel to Open New Border Crossings to Increase Gaza Aid After Biden Call

Israel’s security cabinet authorized increased aid to Gaza on Thursday night after President Joe Biden warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that U.S. policy toward the war could change without improved humanitarian access for Palestinians.

In a statement issued to Israeli media on Thursday night, the government said it will take “immediate steps to increase humanitarian aid to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.”

To facilitate the delivery of aid to Gaza, Israel will temporarily open the Erez border crossing in Gaza’s north and allow aid to arrive at the nearby Port of Ashdod, which was closed after the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel.

Jordanian aid will also be allowed to enter through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where Gaza borders southern Israel and Egypt.

“This increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis and is necessary to ensure the continuation of the fighting and to achieve the goals of the war,” the statement reads.

This comes after U.S. President Joe Biden told Mr. Netanyahu that U.S. policy regarding Gaza could change if Israel doesn’t take action. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is “unacceptable,” President Biden told the Israeli prime minister on their phone call, according to a White House readout.

The White House issued a statement on Thursday night, welcoming Israel’s decision and urging its government to “fully and rapidly” implement the plan.

“These steps, including a commitment to open the Ashdod port for the direct delivery of assistance into Gaza, to open the Erez crossing for a new route for assistance to reach north Gaza, and to significantly increase deliveries from Jordan directly into Gaza, must now be fully and rapidly implemented,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.

“As the president said today on the call, U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these and other steps, including steps to protect innocent civilians and the safety of aid workers.

“We are prepared to work in full coordination with the Government of Israel, the Governments of Jordan and Egypt, the United Nations, and humanitarian organizations, to ensure that these important steps are implemented and result in a significant increase in humanitarian assistance reaching civilians in dire need throughout Gaza over the coming days and weeks,” the statement added.

According to Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry, around 30,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military action targeting Hamas in Gaza.

Israel launched its offensive in Gaza after the Oct. 7 attacks, in which Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 Israelis and others while taking 250 hostages—over half of whom have since been freed.

The United Nations has warned of famine in northern Gaza as Palestinians struggle to access basic needs like food and water amid Israel’s war against Hamas.

The Erez checkpoint will be the third access point for aid deliveries in Gaza, after the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Israel and another at the border with Egypt in the city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are currently sheltering from the ongoing war.

The phone call between President Biden and Mr. Netanyahu was the first time the two leaders had spoken since an Israeli airstrike killed seven members of a U.S.-based non-governmental organization, World Central Kitchen, in Gaza on April 1, including one dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada.

President Biden said on Wednesday that he was “outraged and heartbroken” at the deaths.

Israel apologized for the killings, and its military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, announced that an initial inquiry found that the strike was the result of “misidentification” of a target.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration would let the Israeli government handle the investigation into the strike while stressing the need for it to be comprehensive and ensure accountability.

The White House said that during the call, the president “made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps” to address the safety of aid workers, the harm brought upon civilians, and humanitarian suffering.

The White House said on Thursday that it continues to support a temporary cease-fire to facilitate the exchange of hostages while also supporting Israel with arms and ammunition.

From The Epoch Times

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