Egypt’s Rafah crossing—the only entry point into the besieged Gaza Strip—will “hopefully” open tomorrow, World Health Organization officials said at a Thursday news conference.
The United Nations agency has supplies sufficient to care for 2,000 patients waiting on the Egyptian side of the border, with 80,000 additional pounds of supplies set to arrive over the next week, its director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said at the news conference.
Five truckloads of supplies are ready to go as soon as the border is opened, WHO officials said—but they need assurances that those delivering them will be allowed to safely do so.
Not only would deconfliction ensure there is no loss of life during delivery, but it would also assist officials in ensuring the supplies reach civilians in need—and that they don’t fall into the hands of terrorists, Dr. Teresa Zakaria, health emergency officer for WHO, said.
Still, officials from various organizations and nations have said for days that the border would open imminently, to no avail. Opening the border requires cooperation from both Egypt and Israel, which each control a gate on their side, as well as Hamas, which needs to provide assurances that the group will not interfere.
Even if it is opened tomorrow as promised, roads have been “very badly destroyed” in the course of warfare, Dr. Michael Ryan, the organization’s executive director of health emergencies, said.
There is a “long road to go” in ensuring even a few truckloads of supplies safely make it across the border into the right hands, he said.
“I’ll pray—and I don’t pray very often—that the border will open tomorrow,” he added.
This is a developing story and will be updated.