6:42 PM ET, October 19, 2023
The Rafah crossing is not expected to open Friday for vital Gaza aid, sources told CNN
From Jake Tapper, Jennifer Hansler and Alex Marquardt
Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images
The Rafah Crossing A humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza is not expected to open Friday, multiple sources told CNN, despite U.S. President Joe Biden and others expecting it to remain open.
“I’m not going to put money on those trucks going tomorrow,” a source familiar with the discussions told CNN.
Road repairs are to be done on the Egyptian side of the buffer zone, and there are many details to ensure aid continues, the source said.
It was a “really volatile situation,” the person said. “These people are waiting for food, medicine and water. Say 20 trucks are coming and you don’t know when the next one is going to come, that creates a very dangerous situation. If I were in that situation and I didn’t think there would be many trucks, I would do my best to get what was inside.
US officials now expect the first convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egypt to Gaza to cross the border later this week, possibly by Saturday.
A US official cautioned that the situation remains fluid as preparations continue to allow humanitarian aid.
US State Department spokesman Matt Miller told a briefing Thursday afternoon that David Satterfield, the US special envoy for Middle East humanitarian assistance, was “on the ground negotiating with the Israelis” and was working on the details “as we speak”.
“With regard to trucks, I don’t want to talk about what the perfect deal will look like because that’s something that’s still being negotiated, Ambassador Satterfield is negotiating on the ground,” Miller said.
The contract is for 20 trucks, but 200 are parked outside, so aid can continue if the contract is in place.
Israel wants to be involved in the control mechanism, the source said, to make sure they agree on what is happening.
“Things can change for better and worse quickly,” they said.
Miller on Thursday reiterated concerns expressed by the Israeli government that Hamas would try to divert aid to Gaza and noted that “we think that is a legitimate concern.”
Speaking to reporters on his way back to the United States from Israel on Wednesday, Biden spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Rafa agreed to open the crossing “To begin with, up to 20 trucks should be allowed.” The president said the road into Gaza must be repaired and potholes filled before trucks can pass through. He said the work will take about eight hours to complete Thursday, and he expects the trucks to be rolling Friday.
On Thursday, Egyptian state media and an Egyptian security official also indicated that the crossing would be open on Friday.