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WFP pauses Gaza aid via US pier as Israeli soldiers 'killed' in intense Rafah clashes

World Food Programme's decision comes after Israeli attacks on Nuseirat and Deir al-Balah killed more than 270 Palestinians and wounded hundreds
A satellite image shows an overview of the US-built pier and its surrounding area in the Gaza Strip on 18 May, 2024 (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)
A satellite image shows an overview of the US-built pier and its surrounding area in the Gaza Strip on 18 May, 2024 (Maxar Technologies/Reuters)

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said Monday its aid delivery operations through the US-built pier in Gaza have been “paused” due to safety concerns amid Israeli attacks on the strip.

WFP Director Cindy McCain told US broadcaster CBS that concerns over the safety of her team was the main reason behind this decision.

“I’m concerned about the safety of our people,” she said. “We’ve stepped back for the moment … to make sure we’re on safe terms and on safe ground before we’ll restart. But the rest of the country is operational. We’re doing everything we can in the north and the south”

McCain added that two WFP warehouses in Gaza have been “rocketed” and that a staffer was injured.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) described the pause as a step to allow for a security review over the aid distribution situation in Gaza.

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USAID, which works with the WFP and other partners to distribute aid through the pier, told the AP that they are working with US officials and other humanitarian groups “to ensure that aid can safely and effectively resume movement following completion of the security review that the humanitarian community is currently undertaking”.

Following Israel’s attack on Nuseirat that killed over 270 Palestinians to free four Israeli hostages, several news outlets reported on the US’s involvement in the operation.

Videos of a helicopter leaving the US-built pier cast doubt over its potential use in the deadly attack. The US denies these allegations.

Meanwhile, heavy clashes were reported in Rafah amid a continued Israeli ground invasion in the Gaza's southernmost city bordering Egypt. 

The armed wing of Hamas, the al-Qassam Bridages, said they blew up a booby-trapped building where Israeli soldiers were holed up in the al-Shaboura refugee camp.

All members of the Israeli force inside the building were killed or wounded, al-Qassam Bridages said. It added that backup forces were attacked with morter shells near the blown up building afterwards. 

Middle East Eye could not independently verify the claim and the Israeli military did not immediately comment.

However, Palestinian and Israeli news outlets reported that several Israeli military helicopters and warplanes were flying at a low altitude in Rafah after the reported explosion to rescue the dead and wounded. 

Several Israeli soldiers have been reportedly killed and wounded in the attack. 

US circulates amended ceasefire proposal at Security Council

The US is circulating an amended version of its ceasefire resolution at the UN Security Council, calling for a vote.

Most prominently, the clause stressing the Security Council’s opposition to the establishment of buffer zones in Gaza has been removed following pushback from Israel.

US involved in Israeli rescue operation that killed over 200 Palestinians
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The new draft also explicitly states that Israel has accepted this deal, while previous versions stated it was simply acceptable to Israel. It calls on Hamas to accept it and on both parties to ensure its implementation.

The US also states that a ceasefire would remain in place after the six-week period as long as negotiations over the next phase of the deal persist.

Hamas had previously stated that it rejects any ceasefire proposal that does not ensure a permanent ceasefire.

The negotiations are taking place as Israel continues its bombings and operations in the Gaza Strip.

The Wafa news agency reports that at least eight people have been killed in overnight bombings of Gaza City, with raids carried out across the Palestinian enclave.

The Palestinian death toll of the war in Gaza surpassed 37,000 following Israel’s deadly attack on Nuseirat.

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