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UN chief: Aid convoy at Rafah crossing 'the difference between life and death'

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres visited the Egypt-Gaza border at Rafah early Friday to encourage the transfer of humanitarian aid into the besieged territory amid Israel’s war with Hamas.

Guterres said the aid is “the difference between life and death for the people.”

Civilians in Gaza have struggled with dwindling medical supplies and fuel reserves as well as rationed food and water since Hamas, which controls Gaza, began a war with Israel nearly two weeks ago.

“We absolutely need to have these trucks moving as quickly as possible and as many as necessary, but for that, there must be a sustained effort,” he said in a speech at the border.

He added that there needed to be trucks entering “every day to provide enough support for the Gaza people.”

About 55 trucks full of aid were waiting on the Egyptian side of the border early Friday, The Associated Press reported.

The humanitarian aid convoy was expected to enter Gaza later Friday after President Biden encouraged the Israeli government to allow it in earlier this week. Biden announced a $100 million humanitarian aid package for Gaza civilians Wednesday, while he was visiting Israel.

Those convoys do not include fuel, which has been a point of emphasis in negotiations between Egypt and Israel, the AP noted. The Israeli military claims that Hamas, recognized as a terrorist group by the United States government, had previously stolen fuel from U.N. facilities. The entire territory is without power and hospitals require fuel to power generators for lifesaving equipment.

The conflict has killed more than 1,400 Israelis in its first two weeks, mostly in a Hamas surprise attack that was the war’s outset, according to the Israeli government, while responding strikes have killed nearly 3,800 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-led government in Gaza.

The Israeli military has continuously bombarded Gaza as it prepares for an expected ground invasion of the territory. Strikes have displaced more than a million people, about half of Gaza’s population.

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