Two fuel tankers entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Friday after approval by Israel’s war cabinet to facilitate regular supplies to the besieged enclave, CNN reported.
The tankers, carrying a total of 60,000 liters of diesel, were authorized for use by international organizations, particularly the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), according to Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari.
“This fuel has entered in a limited way for the use of international organizations for UNRWA,” said Rear Adm. Hagari, specifying that the fuel will support a desalination plant providing water to the southern belt. The process is overseen by the United States and Egypt.
“There are desalination plants that are supposed to supply water to the southern belt, so the fuel is used just for these two needs. We are monitoring this issue to ensure that it is used only for these two needs. This (process) is being led by the US and Egypt,” he added Hagar.
The decision allows two fuel tankers a day to enter Gaza, providing essential support to water and sewage systems on the brink of collapse due to lack of electricity. Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s national security adviser, emphasized the critical state of these systems at a briefing on Friday.
Israel’s war cabinet on Friday approved measures to allow two fuel tankers a day to enter Gaza to support the water and sewage system, CNN reported, citing Israel’s national security adviser.
These systems are “on the verge of collapse, considering the lack of electricity and the ability to operate sewage and water systems,” official Tzachi Hanegbi said at a briefing on Friday.
Under the approved measure, 140,000 liters of fuel will enter Gaza every 48 hours, with most allocated for use in water and sewage, a US State Department official told CNN.
Other uses include UN aid trucks, waste disposal, bakeries, and hospitals in southern Gaza. A smaller portion, around 20,000 liters every 48 hours, will power Paltel’s generators for mobile phone and internet services.
The decision was made in consultation with the Israel Defense Forces and Israel’s International Security Academy to ensure it was in line with operational objectives and did not support Hamas, Hanegbi clarified.
The rationale for the decision was placed in the context of preventing the spread of pandemics and recognizing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Hanegbi said: “We do not need pandemics that could affect civilians, our combat troops, and if pandemics occur, the fighting will stop. We will not be able to continue fighting in conditions of humanitarian crisis and global outcry.”
Notably, the decision faced criticism from the Israeli government, with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich expressing concern and calling for a policy change.
Smotrich even wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which he later posted on X, asking for the policy to be reversed, CNN reported.
“The decision is extremely strange. This decision is a spit in the face of the IDF soldiers, the bereaved families, the hostages, and their families,” Smotrich said, adding: “This is not how you win a war, this is not how you destroy Hamas.” and we will not return the hostages like this.”
Fuel shortages in Gaza have exacerbated water and sewage problems, with around 70 percent of the population now dependent on “saline and contaminated” water, according to UNRWA.
The fuel situation has been a key point in recent discussions, including those with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv earlier this month. The move to allow the fuel deliveries comes after weeks of pressure from the US, CNN reported.
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