Egypt says 'Israeli obstacles' impeding aid delivery to Gaza

FILE PHOTO: Palestinians, who fled their houses amid Israeli strikes, take shelter at a tent camp at a United Nations-run centre, in Khan Younis

(Reuters) -Egypt's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday "Israeli obstacles" including truck inspection procedures were impeding the prompt delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Palestinian enclave.

"The trucks must be inspected at the Israeli Nitzana crossing before they head to the Rafah crossing on a journey that takes a distance of 100 km (62 miles) before they actually enter the Rafah crossing, which causes obstacles that significantly delay the arrival of aid," a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

The Rafah crossing, which is controlled by Egypt and does not border Israel, has become the main point of aid delivery since Israel imposed a siege on Gaza in retaliation for an attack by Hamas militants from the coastal strip on Oct. 7.

Before the conflict, about 500 trucks a day were crossing into Gaza, but in recent days, an average of only 12 trucks a day have entered, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday.

A border source said that trip results in a 16-hour delay and was the reason why the number of trucks never again reached a high of 20 achieved on the first day deliveries were restarted.

Israel has vowed to wipe out the Hamas group that rules Gaza, which it says killed 1,400 people and took hundreds hostage in an Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel.

Gaza's besieged people had barely any communications with the outside world on Saturday as Israeli jets dropped more bombs and suggested a long-threatened ground offensive against Hamas was starting. Palestinian authorities say more than 7,000 have been killed.

(Reporting by Enas Alashray, Hatem Maher, and Yusri Mohamed; Editing by David Evans and Helen Popper)