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International Court of Justice orders Israel to allow more aid into Gaza

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Israeli forces have withdrawn from Gaza's largest hospital complex after a two-week battle.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Israel said that battle was necessary because Hamas forces had regrouped there. Meanwhile, in central Gaza, Israeli airstrikes killed four people, including two journalists, in another hospital complex. This all comes as the International Court of Justice, the main judicial body of the U.N., is ordering Israel to allow more aid to enter Gaza. The court says famine there is no longer imminent. It has already set in. Israel denies that.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Jane Arraf joins us now from Amman. Jane, what happened with the strike on the hospital in central Gaza?

JANE ARRAF, BYLINE: The U.N.'s health organization said it had a humanitarian team at Al-Aqsa Hospital at the time. It says during the airstrike, its staff were unhurt, but four other people were killed. Now, Israel called them precision strikes on a command center of a militant Hamas ally. But Gaza's government media office said the Israeli airstrikes killed a journalist and a photojournalist. The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 90 Palestinian journalists and media workers have been killed since the war in Gaza began.

But also, Israeli forces withdrew yesterday from another hospital complex, Al-Shifa, following a two-week assault. The U.N.'s World Health Organization says at least 21 patients died during that military operation. Gaza health officials say they were prevented from evacuating patients and staff from the badly damaged complex, where there's already a severe shortage of medicine, medical supplies and even drinking water. Israel says it was not responsible for any patient deaths.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. So let's get into living conditions in Gaza. Israel says that it is - denies that it is blocking aid. So then why are people starving and patients going without basic care?

ARRAF: Well, simply, according to U.N. and other aid agency officials, as well as the U.S. government, not enough aid is being allowed in. The U.S. has been pressing Israel to open more border crossings. Israel and Egypt control the Gaza borders, and Israel has imposed extensive restrictions, it says, to ensure weapons aren't getting through.

So the upshot is that now only about half the number of aid trucks, compared to levels before the war, are being allowed in by Israel, according to U.N. officials. And the U.N.'s International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to allow more aid. Although that court has no way to enforce its order.

MARTÍNEZ: Any way to know how many trucks are waiting to enter?

ARRAF: Well, it's difficult to get specific numbers, but most aid officials say several thousand trucks are waiting near the border with Egypt. A Jordanian security official told me in March that satellite images showed 30,000 trucks waiting to enter Rafah, including in holding areas. Over the weekend, he still insisted that's the case. But most aid officials say the figure is substantially lower. Estimates generally range from between 3,000 to 7,000 trucks waiting.

The World Food Program and its partners say they have enough food to feed everyone in Gaza. It's just not being allowed in. And they estimate that at least 500 trucks a day would need to enter. Right now, it's about 200 a day.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Jane Arraf. Thank you very much.

ARRAF: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jane Arraf covers Egypt, Iraq, and other parts of the Middle East for NPR News.
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.