The United States will accelerate its humanitarian assistance into Gaza, including food, fuel and medical supplies, with the first of three relief flights beginning this week, Fox News has learned.
The U.S. military will be sending a series of items, which also include supplies to help Palestinians survive the upcoming winter conditions, to North Sinai and Egypt on Tuesday, according to senior administration officials. Additional plane loads of supplies and aid will then be sent in the coming days, the officials said.
Additional talks are in the works with the Israeli government on how to allow even more assistance to the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom have been displaced from their homes and face unsustainable living conditions in south and central Gaza, where about 80% of the Gaza Strip population now lives.
These supplies and fuel are not linked to the release of hostages, the officials said. As of Tuesday, Hamas has released 58 hostages, 40 of them Israeli, while Israel has released roughly 150 Palestinian prisoners.
Another key point of further aid was urging caution in Israel’s continued operations in Gaza. The U.S. emphasized to Israel that when its military continues its ground operation into southern Gaza, after the current cease-fire ends, it should do so in a way so as not to produce further displacement of Palestinians, according to the senior administration officials.
Southern Gaza is now more densely packed than it was before the ground operation started as those residents of northern Gaza fled south. Should the same displacement that took place in the North be replicated in the south, then U.N. facilities and other humanitarian care facilities would become overwhelmed, exacerbating the crisis.
The aid represents a turn around in policy for the Israeli government who, just weeks ago, did not allow any aid into Gaza.
Since the allowance of aid, senior administration officials said the U.S. and the United Nations have sustained 240 trucks of aid per day. The assistance includes significant quantities of fuel, which is critical for maintaining infrastructure, water desalination plants, hospitals, pumping of water from wells, sewerage pumping, solid waste removal and other essential functions.
The negotiations include providing commercial goods to Gaza, and an increase in volume to about 300 or 400 trucks per day. Any proposal would need to include quicker inspection procedures, the officials said.
On Monday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a two-day extension to the current cease-fire, which was set to expire later that day.
President Biden thanked Middle Eastern leaders for facilitating the extension of the humanitarian pause, saying the pause enabled "a significant surge in additional humanitarian assistance to the innocent civilians who are suffering across the Gaza Strip."
"I have remained deeply engaged over the last few days to ensure that this deal — brokered and sustained through extensive U.S. mediation and diplomacy — can continue to deliver results," Biden said in a statement.
The president also noted that the U.S. has worked for years to be the "largest funder of humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people."
"We are taking full advantage of the pause in fighting to increase the amount of humanitarian aid moving into Gaza, and we will continue our efforts to build a future of peace and dignity for the Palestinian people," Biden continued.
"Today, I want to again thank Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar, and President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt for their commitment to this process and in reaching the agreement for an extension over the next 48 hours," the statement added. "We will not stop until all of the hostages held by Hamas terrorists are released."