UN chief Antonio Guterres stands next to a plane with aid for Palestinians at Al Areesh airport in Egypt on Friday. Reuters
"These trucks are not just trucks, they are a lifeline. They are the difference between life and death for so many people in Gaza," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as he visited the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing with Gaza to oversee preparations for the delivery of aid.
Cargo planes and trucks have been bringing humanitarian aid to Rafah for days, but so far none has been delivered to Gaza, which has been under intense Israeli bombardment for almost two weeks since the deadly Oct.7 attacks.
Since then, more than 4,100 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed in relentless Israeli bombardments, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.
Israel also cut off supplies of water, electricity, fuel and food to the long-blockaded territory of 2.4 million people after the attacks, creating chronic shortages, but UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths on Friday said the first aid delivery via Rafah would take place "in the next day or so."
"To see (the aid trucks) stuck here makes me be very clear: what we need is to make them move... to the other side of this wall... as quickly as possible and as many as possible," Guterres told reporters at the crossing.
The UN chief said it must be "a sustained effort" with not just one convoy crossing but for many "to be authorised in a meaningful number to have enough trucks to provide support to Gaza's people."
The United Nations, he said, was "actively engaging with all the parties" including Egypt, Israel, the United States to get the trucks moving as quickly as possible.
Rafah is the only crossing into the blockaded Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel, which agreed to allow aid in following a request from its ally Washington.
Seventy-six wounded Palestinians and 335 foreigners or dual-nationals were allowed to cross from the Gaza Strip for Egypt, an Egyptian official at the Rafah crossing said.
Also during the day, the first fuel trucks since war erupted between Hamas and Israel entered the Palestinian enclave. Six trucks with fuel to power generators at two hospitals crossed from Egypt, the UNRWA and an Egyptian source told AFP.
Their joint statement mentioned that the right to self-defence does not justify breaking law and neglecting Palestinians' rights. The Arab foreign ministers also condemned forced displacement and collective punishment in Gaza, it added.
Blinken is due to meet Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman on Saturday. Safadi said in a statement Israel must end the war on Gaza, where he said it was committing war crimes by bombing civilians and imposing a siege.
At a bustling construction site outside of Dallas, there are hopes that Congress can finally pass nearly $95 billion in foreign aid including funding for Ukraine — because factory jobs in the United States depend on that money.
The north, including Gaza City, has been isolated since Israeli troops first moved into it in late October. Large swaths of the city have been reduced to rubble, but several hundred thousand Palestinians remain largely cut off from aid.
Global powers trying to navigate a way out of the spiralling crisis have so far come up short, and mediation efforts have so far failed to secure a truce to halt the fighting.
The United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on Tuesday that called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, drawing stern criticism from allies as President Joe Biden faces mounting pressure to temper support for Israel.