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Hundreds of aid trucks are entering Gaza as Israel faces pressure to allow them in

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hundreds of aid trucks are entering into Gaza - more per day than at any other time since the start of the Israel-Hamas war six months ago. Israel has been under increasing U.S. pressure to ramp up its inspections of humanitarian aid. Those shipments had been trickling into Gaza, causing widespread hunger. Aid groups applaud the surge, but they say there are still many obstacles to getting the vital supplies delivered. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Tuesday, Israel allowed 468 aid trucks into Gaza. According to COGAT, the Israeli agency coordinating the deliveries, that brings the total to more than 1,200 in just the past three days. Israel agreed to open more avenues for aid after President Biden threatened to condition U.S. support on how Israel dealt with Gaza's humanitarian crisis. Today Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautiously applauded Israel's accelerated inspections.

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ANTONY BLINKEN: We will judge it by its results and by whether they're sustained, but the commitments that have been that have been made and the initial steps to implement those commitments are positive. But a lot more needs to happen to make sure that people in Gaza have what they need.

KAHN: While officials applauded the increase, many said the aid deliveries are still too low to alleviate the hunger crisis that has been months in the making.

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HISHAM ADWAN: (Speaking Arabic).

KAHN: Hisham Adwan, spokesman for Gaza's Border and Crossing Authority, says it's not enough due to the catastrophic situation caused by months of Israeli aggression. Before the war, more than 500 trucks a day entered Gaza. Adwan says at least 1,000 to 1,500 trucks a day would be needed to ease people's suffering.

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KAHN: At an outdoor market in Rafah, NPR's producer Anas Baba spoke with food traders in Gaza's southernmost city. Food prices have skyrocketed in the severely overcrowded city now teeming with more than a million displaced Palestinians.

MOHAMMED FATHI QESHTA: (Speaking Arabic).

KAHN: Mohammed Fathi Qeshta says, if things continue at this rate, he's hopeful that prices could go back to where they were before the war. The cost of food has soared, even for basic goods like sugar and flour, costing more than $10 a pound. Israeli authorities say it is doing its part to get all the aid into Gaza. David Mencer, spokesman for Israel's National Public Diplomacy Directorate, said today that any further delays are because Hamas steals the aid and profits from Gazans' misery.

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DAVID MENCER: Hamas wants to maximize the suffering of ordinary Gazans. Why? - to stop the war and to save their own skins.

KAHN: COGAT blames the U.N. for any slowdown on deliveries inside Gaza. But U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian Territory, Jamie McGoldrick, says deliveries are complicated by many factors, including the shortage of fuel and drivers.

JAMIE MCGOLDRICK: We are happy with the large number of talks coming, but also, there has to be a recognition that we can't facilitate, we can't process all of these because of the limitations we have at the crossing point and then the daylight hours.

KAHN: Gaza's roads are unsafe to drive on at night, he says, and even during the day due to ongoing Israeli airstrikes. U.S. planes also airdropped aid donated from Jordan into northern Gaza, including clothes and children's toys in time for the end-of-Ramadan celebration, Eid, which is scheduled for tomorrow. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Tel Aviv. 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.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.

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