ISMAILIA, Egypt - The first truck carrying fuel into Gaza since the start of Israel's war with Hamas crossed from Egypt on Wednesday to deliver diesel to the United Nations, though it will do little to alleviate shortages that have hampered relief efforts.
The delivery was made possible by Israel, which gave its approval for 24,000 liters (6,340 gallons) of diesel fuel for U.N. aid distribution trucks and not for use at hospitals, a humanitarian source said.
'This is only 9% of what we need daily to sustain lifesaving activities,' Tom White, director of U.N. relief agency UNRWA in Gaza, posted on social media platform X. He confirmed that just more than 23,000 liters, or half a tanker, had been received.
'Our entire operation is now on the verge of collapse,' said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. 'It is appalling that fuel continues to be used as a weapon of war.'
Aid workers say a lack of fuel, which is needed for hospital generators, provision of water, sewage treatment and communications as well as relief distribution, has contributed to deteriorating conditions for Gaza's 2.3 million residents.
Deliveries of aid have been crossing from Egypt into Gaza since Oct. 21, but Israel had refused to allow in fuel, saying it could be used by Hamas to fuel its fight against Israel.
The United Nations had warned in recent days that it would soon have to halt humanitarian operations as fuel stocks became fully depleted. It said fuel shortages threatened to shut down telecoms data centers and connection points within 48 hours.
Limited numbers of Palestinians have been brought to Egypt for medical treatment, with 135 evacuated between Nov. 2-13.
Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca on Wednesday said 27 cancer patients and their 13 companions flew to Turkey for treatment, the first to be taken from Gaza to Egypt and then transferred to another country since fighting began.
He said efforts were underway to bring wounded civilians, babies and more of nearly 1,000 Gaza cancer patients to Turkey.
Egypt has readied 35 ambulances with mobile incubators after three premature babies at Gaza's besieged Shifa hospital died when their incubators lost power, officials said.
On Tuesday, 91 trucks carrying food, medicine, bottled water, blankets and tents entered Gaza from Egypt's Rafah crossing, but the U.N. says deliveries since Oct. 21 - 1,187 trucks in total - can only meet a fraction of needs.
Distribution of the aid had largely come to a halt for lack of fuel, it said.
It has called on Israel to open its Kerem Shalom crossing to allow in larger quantities of aid.
After the first truck carrying fuel set off for Gaza on Wednesday, witnesses said two other trucks were lined up on the Egyptian side, but it was unclear when they might enter.
Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on Oct. 7.
Israel says 1,200 people were killed and some 240 captives taken in the attack. Gaza health officials say more than 11,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed in Israel's military offensive