UN chief visits Gaza border in new plea for ceasefire

Gaza :– UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will visit Egypt’s border with Gaza on Saturday to renew pleas for a ceasefire that could bring relief to a territory devastated by more than five months of Israel’s war in Gaza.

His trip comes as Israel threatens to launch a major military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, just over the border from Egypt, despite international appeals against such an attack.

A majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are sheltering around Rafah. Though conditions are worse in the north of the strip, the plight of civilians across the territory has deteriorated sharply as the conflict has ground on.

Guterres arrived on Saturday in Al Arish in Egypt’s northern Sinai, where much of the international relief for Gaza is delivered and stockpiled.

Receiving him, regional governor Mohamed Shusha said some 7,000 trucks were waiting in North Sinai to deliver aid to Gaza, but that inspection procedures demanded by Israel had held up the flow of relief, according to a statement from Shusha’s office.

Guterres is expected to visit a hospital in Al Arish where Palestinians evacuated from Gaza are receiving treatment, and meet UN humanitarian workers on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, one of the entry points for the aid.

As hopes for a truce during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan have faded and the humanitarian situation in Gaza has become more desperate, the United States and other countries have sought to use air drops and ships to deliver more relief.

But humanitarian agencies say that only about one-fifth of the required amount of supplies has been entering Gaza, and that the only way to meet needs in coastal enclave is to rapidly accelerate deliveries by road.


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