Biden Quietly Making Moves In Gaza

The Biden administration is advocating for the opening of a second Gaza crossing to increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Palestinians. However, Israel has thus far rejected these requests. Despite Israel’s closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing due to military and political concerns, top U.S. officials consistently bring up the issue in meetings with Israeli counterparts.

Critics argue that the closure prevents essential aid, including food, water, medicine, and winter clothing, from reaching Gaza’s 2.3 million people. International aid organizations have also privately urged the U.S. administration, including national security adviser Jake Sullivan, to leverage its influence with Israel to open the crossing.

Currently, the only operational entry point into Gaza is through Rafah on the Egyptian border, but it cannot handle a large influx of aid vehicles. According to officials and humanitarian groups, Kerem Shalom, located at the intersection of Gaza, Egypt, and Israel, is better equipped to deliver hundreds of aid trucks daily.

Nevertheless, the U.S. has faced resistance from Israel on both military and political fronts. This resistance has created challenges for humanitarian organizations operating in Gaza, hindering the distribution of essential medical and food supplies.

COGAT, the Israeli office responsible for coordinating aid deliveries to Gaza, has publicly criticized the U.N., arguing that insufficient efforts are being made to expedite the entry of trucks stuck on the Egyptian side of the border. They propose that opening Kerem Shalom would be a positive step, but they stress that it alone would not be adequate to address the severe humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Israeli officials express concern that a convoy of trucks entering Gaza from Israel would become susceptible to attacks by Hamas. The Israeli government has made a political decision to keep Kerem Shalom closed as long as Hamas continues to hold hostages, and this stance is not expected to change in the near future.

The United Nations reports that approximately 1.9 million people in Gaza are displaced, with 60 percent of housing units destroyed or damaged. Only 18 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are operational.

Drawing from his experience commanding troops in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized the importance of protecting civilian populations in this conflict. He stated that driving civilians into the arms of the enemy would result in a strategic defeat, even if there were tactical victories. The United States is committed to maintaining the progress achieved during the cease-fire and expanding the flow of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Daily engagement with Egypt, Israel, and other stakeholders is ongoing to ensure continuous and increased assistance.