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Israel claims the UN is “misleading” the world over delays in aid to Gaza

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JERUSALEM – During a visit to Egypt last weekend, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres made a stop at the border crossing between the most populous Arab state and the war-hit Gaza Strip. Guterres described seeing a “long line of blocked aid trucks waiting to be let into the Gaza Strip” at the Rafah crossing.

In the immediate aftermath, the Israelis accused the top UN official of “deception,” noting instead that it was the UN that was delaying the delivery of life-saving aid to people said to be on the brink of famine in the Palestinian enclave.

“Since October 7, UN actors and organizations have spread one lie after another about Hamas’s atrocities and Israel’s efforts to exercise its legitimate right to self-defense,” said Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust and president of Human Rights Voices, said Fox News Digital.

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Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid are inspected before crossing into the Gaza Strip in Kerem Shalom, Israel, March 14, 2024. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

As images of malnourished Gaza children have surfaced in news and social media in recent weeks, UN aid agencies and Israeli authorities have engaged in a bitter dispute over who is responsible for preventing deliveries of food, water and medicine from overflowing To reach 2 million civilians in different parts of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials say there is no limit to the amount of aid that can enter Gaza; The UN – and its aid agencies – claim the opposite. They claim there are blockages due to lengthy screening procedures and limited operating hours, particularly at the Rafah border crossing, which is occupied by Egypt, and are pushing for Israel to open more entry points, particularly in the north.

“The slow passage of trucks in Rafah represents one of the blockages, as well as the blockage of UNRWA work in the north,” Farhan Aziz Haq, a spokesman for Guterres, told Fox News Digital on Monday. He was referring to the controversial United Nations disaster relief agency, which serves Palestinian refugees and their families in the region but which has been accused of working with Hamas, a U.S.-designated terror group.

“Some trucks are coming through, but not nearly enough, at a time when we need to get about 300 trucks a day to avert famine,” he said.

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But Shimon Freedman, the international media spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli military unit that coordinates between Israel and the Palestinian territories, reiterated to Fox News Digital that “Israel sets no limits on the amount of aid that can enter the Gaza Strip.”

He said Israel had opened additional border crossings into Gaza in recent months – including a special route to reach those trapped in the north. In addition, the staff was increased and the inspection times were extended.

IDF aid convoy

Humanitarian aid trucks carrying supplies from the World Food Program arrive in the northern Gaza Strip from Israel. (IDF Spokesperson Unit)

“We have made great efforts to improve our inspection capabilities so that more help can reach the people who need it,” he said, emphasizing that “we can currently inspect 44 trucks per hour.”

“The problem lies in the distribution capabilities of the international organization,” Freedman added.

Following a post by the Secretary-General on X about trucks waiting in Rafah, COGAT posted a photo of the help They are waiting to be picked up on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visits the Rafah border crossing in Egypt.

U.S. Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during a press conference in front of the border crossing on March 23, 2024 in Rafah, Egypt. (Ali Moustafa/Getty Images)

Ahed Al-Hindi, a senior fellow at the Center for Peace Communications who monitors the humanitarian situation in Gaza, said many of the Gaza activists he spoke to recently “expressed concerns about how humanitarian aid from abroad is being received by the United States.” Hamas is being manipulated.”

“They told me that Hamas is selectively distributing aid to its loyalists and using it as political leverage, especially in areas with food shortages,” he said. “This tactic allows Hamas to recruit supporters among families affected by the conflict – a pattern also seen in other war-torn regions such as Syria and Libya, where radical Islamist groups have used international aid for political gain and recruiting purposes .”

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Tents and temporary shelters in Gaza

A UNRWA tent camp in Khan Yunis, Gaza, on November 27, 2023. (Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“Unlike many Western countries, the Israelis are very familiar with these tactics, having dealt with militant organized groups for decades,” Al-Hindi said. “They understand how UN assistance can be used for recruiting purposes in both war and peacetime.

“Both narratives are correct,” Shaul Bartal, senior researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv, told Fox News Digital.

“There is enough aid, but it is difficult to distribute it properly because Hamas controls a significant part of this area,” he said, adding: “UNRWA is not working properly because of what is happening on the ground and also because of some other things. “His workers are members of Hamas, so they help them.”

Bartal, who is also closely following events in Gaza, also noted that local gangs across the Gaza Strip were looting aid to sell on the black market and that aid workers, including truck drivers, were too afraid to do so to enter lawless areas. Some of the drivers even died while distributing relief supplies, he said. Last month, more than 100 people were killed in the Gaza Strip when desperate civilians stormed an aid convoy.

United Nations and Israel flags.

A State Department spokesman said Israel could do more with UNRWA and other U.N. agencies providing aid in Gaza. (Getty Images)

Bartal said that for aid to be distributed correctly, a local power must be directly involved.

“There are only two local powers capable of effectively distributing aid – Hamas or Israel,” he said. “If Israel wanted to provide humanitarian assistance to the population, it could do so through the army.”

In a news conference earlier this week, IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the army’s involvement in distributing humanitarian aid has increased in recent weeks, even as its troops continue to fight Hamas terrorists inside the territory.

“We are aware of the suffering of the people of Gaza,” Hagari told reporters, describing how Israel has been stepping up its humanitarian efforts in recent weeks, working with the United States, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and other international organizations, particularly the United States Arab Emirates, World Food Program, another UN aid organization, worked together.

“In Gaza there is a problem with distribution because Hamas operatives either steal the food for their own needs and there is looting in areas it does not control,” he said.

“The problem of distribution is the responsibility of international organizations – the IDF is part of the solution,” Hagari said. “We understand that there is no easy solution, and that is why we are focused on flooding the area with humanitarian assistance… I encourage any international organization that has a solution to the distribution problem to work with COGAT and the IDF.”

Hamas terrorists in Gaza

Hamas terrorists in the Bani Suheila district of Gaza City on July 20, 2017. (Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Hagari said that more than 1,522 trucks carrying food, water and medical equipment, as well as construction materials for shelters and shelters, had entered the Gaza Strip in the past 10 days – with another 500 trucks arriving on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to COGAT’s website. In addition, he said the IDF has opened several new roads, including in the northern part of the territory, and is currently considering new and creative ways to reach those in need.

Bayefsky, whose organization, the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, is a nongovernmental organization accredited to the United Nations, concluded: “Wild, completely unverifiable claims about the number of civilian deaths. Lies about aid deliveries, minus the truth about them.” Hamas thefts and the starvation of Jewish hostages. The list goes on and on. UN sources are simply completely unbelievable because UN actors from the Secretary General on down take their numbers, their “facts” and their talking points from Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.”

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During a press conference on Monday, US State Department spokesman Matt Miller said it had not yet been assessed whether Israel was violating international humanitarian law in providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

“Still, we believe there are many more than them.” [Israel] What I can do is to allow humanitarian aid through both Kerem Shalom and Rafah, as well as through the new Gate 96, which opened the week before last, so that convoys can go directly to the north without having to go through the somewhat dangerous route within the Gaza Strip. He said, adding that Israel could also do more regarding UNRWA and other UN agencies working to provide aid in Gaza.

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