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US wants 'as many channels as possible' for Gaza aid, State Dept says

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LA Post: US wants 'as many channels as possible' for Gaza aid, State Dept says
Reuters
Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis
March 04, 2024

By Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is working to get aid into Gaza through as many channels as possible to remedy the humanitarian disaster amid Israel's war with Hamas militants, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Monday, describing the situation as "simply intolerable."

Washington was optimistic that a new maritime route to deliver aid to Gaza could supplement current efforts to get aid into the enclave, Miller said, adding that that route was "still in the development phase."

In addition to trucks carrying aid through two border crossings in the south of Gaza, the U.S. military, along with allied nations, has in recent days dropped aid packages into Gaza from aircraft, amid warnings much of the population is on the verge of famine.

"The situation is simply intolerable," Miller said at a press briefing, "and that's why the United States is focused on increasing and sustaining aid in Gaza through as many channels as possible."

Washington insists the air and sea routes are supplemental to deliveries by land, and has also pushed Israel to open a border crossing in the north of Gaza for aid deliveries.

"These efforts are not and cannot be a replacement for large-scale assistance to the north (of Gaza) distributed by the U.N. We will continue to press the government of Israel to facilitate increased deliveries to the north."

Washington was "very much not satisfied" with Israel's efforts, Miller added.

U.S. calls for Israel to do more to address the humanitarian situation have grown louder since the deaths of Palestinians lining up for aid in Gaza last week, with Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday calling on Israel to do more.

Gaza Health authorities said 118 people were killed in the incident, attributing the deaths to Israeli fire and calling it a massacre. Israel has pledged to investigate.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says a quarter of the population - 576,000 people - are one step from famine, nearly five months after Israel's assault on Gaza began.

Israel launched the war in response to attacks on southern Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 people. Palestinian authorities say more than 30,000 people have been confirmed killed in Gaza.

The Biden administration continues to push for a temporary pause in fighting in exchange for the release of hostages taken on Oct. 7, to allow for improvement of the humanitarian situation, Miller said.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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