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Israel’s military says it is constructing new northern crossing for aid to reach Gaza


A convoy of aid trucks drives into Gaza from Rafah crossing, April 9, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in this screen grab taken from video.
A convoy of aid trucks drives into Gaza from Rafah crossing, April 9, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in this screen grab taken from video.

Israel's military announced Thursday what it called "new and improved measures" to bring humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, including construction of a new land crossing in northern Gaza.

Military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a video statement that the new crossing would "enable more aid to flow directly to civilians in the areas that have been challenging for the trucks to access."

International humanitarian groups have complained for months about obstacles to bringing aid by truck into Gaza, citing delays imposed by the Israeli military and a lack of safe access to areas such as northern Gaza due to the fighting.

Hagari said Israel expects 50 trucks per day to pass through the new crossing, and that the total number of trucks reaching the Gaza Strip each day will gradually rise from 350 to about 500.

The United Nations says about 500 trucks per day were bringing aid to Gaza before the Israel-Hamas war began in October.

In a phone call Wednesday with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States expects Israel to quickly act on its commitments to facilitate more humanitarian aid and to coordinate with aid groups to ensure there is no repeat of the strike on a World Central Kitchen convoy that killed seven aid workers earlier this month.

As of Thursday, more than 250 humanitarian and human rights groups have called for an end to arms transfers to Israel and Palestinian armed groups.

The State Department said Blinken and Gallant also discussed the ongoing talks about a cease-fire agreement that would include the release of hostages held by the Hamas terror group in Gaza.

The United States said on Thursday it has restricted its employees in Israel and their family members from personal travel outside the greater areas of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva due to threats from Iran to retaliate against Israel for the April 1 airstrike on its embassy compound in Damascus.

Israel said Wednesday it killed three sons of Hamas' supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh in an airstrike in Gaza, saying all the siblings belonged to the militant group's armed wing.

Four of Haniyeh's grandchildren were also killed in the attack as Hazem, Ameer and Mohammed Haniyeh were driving with the children near the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. Ismail Haniyeh is originally from Shati.

Haniyeh, who lives in exile in Qatar, confirmed the deaths in an interview with the Al Jazeera satellite channel, saying his sons "were martyred on the road to liberating Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque."

"The criminal enemy is driven by the spirit of revenge and murder and does not value any standards or laws," Haniyeh said.

His sons are among the highest-profile figures to be killed so far in the six-month Israeli-Hamas war in Gaza. The Israeli military described the siblings as a cell commander and two military operatives.

The brothers were traveling with family members in a single vehicle targeted by an Israeli drone, Al-Aqsa TV said.

Haniyeh told Reuters that Hamas is still seeking a deal for a cease-fire and hostage release despite the deaths of his sons and grandchildren.

"The interests of the Palestinian people are placed above everything," he said. "We are seeking to reach a deal, but the occupation is still procrastinating and evading a response to the demands."

Israel declared war on Hamas after the October 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of about 250 hostages. Israel's counteroffensive in Gaza has killed more than 33,500 people, about two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. That number includes combatants.

Some information for this report came from Reuters, The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.

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