Middle EastWar

Israel Strike Kills Border Crossing Chief, Three Others: Hamas

An Israeli strike Thursday on the southern Gaza Strip killed the head of the Kerem Shalom border crossing and three others, Hamas government authorities said.

Crossing director Bassem Ghaben was killed as Israeli planes targeted the infrastructure, the crossings authority, and the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza said.

The Israeli army and COGAT, the defense ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, did not immediately respond to AFP‘s request for comment.

Israel on Friday approved the temporary delivery of aid into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing, opening a new route for supplies on top of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza after weeks of pressure.

UN secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the latest “drone strike” hampered relief operations, with the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, being “unable to receive (aid) trucks” via Kerem Shalom.

“We understand a number of Palestinians working at the crossing were killed and a certain number of UNRWA colleagues had been there not long before and could also have been hit,” Dujarric said.

The World Food Programme, he added, was forced to temporarily suspend its operations at the crossing after the strike.

Dujarric’s comments came after Israel’s President Isaac Herzog criticized the UN’s “decisive failure” to bring in all aid trucks through the crossing.

The UN spokesman said that “the UN system as a whole is focused on trying to get as much aid in as possible, as quickly as possible.”

“We are working in a highly dangerous situation,” he added. “More than 135 of our colleagues have paid for their lives.”

Earlier this week, UN official Tor Wennesland said that Israel’s “limited” steps to allow aid into Gaza were “positive, but fall far short of what is needed to address the human catastrophe on the ground.”

The UN estimates 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.4 million residents have been displaced and concerns are growing about the limited ability of aid groups to help.

The war began when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, and abducting about 250, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

The Hamas government’s media office said Wednesday that Israel’s assault had killed at least 20,000 people in the Palestinian territory, including some 8,000 children and 6,200 women.

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