Israel starts daily ‘tactical pause’ in south Gaza to enable aid flow

The Israeli military announced on Sunday it is starting a daily, hours-long “tactical pause” in its activities along a stretch of southern Gaza to allow the entry of more aid deliveries, amid warnings that hunger and the risk of famine are growing.

The pause in fighting will will take place along a route in southern Gaza from 8 am to 7 pm every day “until further notice,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

The route runs from the key Kerem Shalom border crossing to the Salah al-Din Road, which is the strip’s main highway, and then northward toward the Khan Younis area.

The hiatus is intended to “increase the volume of humanitarian aid” arriving into the besieged Palestinian territory, the IDF said, adding that it was working with UN and international aid agencies.

After eights months of fighting between Israel’s army and Hamas militants, the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) warns that the people in the southern part of the Gaza Strip could soon suffer from the same dire levels of hunger as those seen in northern Gaza.

Carl Skau, the agency’s deputy executive director, said on Friday that while progress was being made in the north, the situation was deteriorating again in the south.

“Now our concerns are really in the south, where the progress we have made is being reversed,” he said.

The UN’s relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) said on Saturday that over 50,000 children in Gaza were in need of treatment for acute malnutrition.

For months Israel has been focusing it military offensive in and around the main southern city of Rafah, considered the last stronghold of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

A map released by the IDF showed the route covered by the daily “tactical pause” as running south of the city.

Sunday’s announcement came a day after eight Israeli soldiers were killed during fighting in Rafah.

The Gaza war was triggered by the worst massacre in Israel’s history, with more than 1,200 dead, carried out by terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups in Israel on October 7 last year.

The actions of the Israeli army have been criticized internationally – especially the operations in Rafah, where many displaced Palestinian sought refuge from the war.

According to the Hamas-controlled health authority, more than 37,000 people have been killed and more than 85,000 injured in the course of the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. The figures, which do not distinguish between fighters and civilians, cannot be independently verified at present either.

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